Festival death toll rises to 10

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The Independent Online
For many, the Cheltenham Festival of 1996 will be memorable for the thrilling performance of Imperial Call in the Gold Cup. Others will take away far less uplifting thoughts, writes Richard Edmondson.

There will be 10 empty boxes this morning following a meeting which has claimed an unusually large number of fatalities. The names of Monsieur Le Cure, Born To Be Wild, Martin's Lamp and Lamero were yesterday added to the four who perished on the first day and two on Wednesday. The highest profile of these belonged to Monsieur Le Cure, whose life came to an end in a grotesque somersault at the sixth fence of the Gold Cup. The racecourse vet reported that the gelding may have been dead when he hit the turf.

The Festival always takes horses away from us as it is the most competitive and furious meeting in the calendar. The fast ground and consequently fast paces this week have exacerbated the problem.

The trainer who has suffered most is Martin Pipe, who lost Born To Be Wild yesterday following the deaths of Draborgie and Mack The Knife on the opening day. Pipe recorded a double yesterday but nobody mentioned the word consolation.

"The last few days have been the worst of my training life," he said. "But you've only got to look at what happened to those poor children and their teacher in Scotland yesterday to put everything into perspective."

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