Racing: A bloodless victory as Rigoletto scores

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The Independent Online
DESPITE modifications to the fences after violent protests last year, only one horse finished here yesterday at the Velka Pardubicka steeplechase, the highlight of the Czech racing season, Julian Duplain reports from Prague.

Rigoletto, the 4-1 favourite, ridden by Czech veteran jockey Lubir Stenel, had an unassailable lead in the final stages before Faro, his only remaining rival, pulled up.

Eight of the 17 declared runners failed strict veterinary tests, introduced after large fields led to multiple falls in earlier years. Sirena, the mount of Marcus Armytage, the only British jockey due to ride, was one of those passed unfit.

On good-to-firm going, four horses fell at the Taxis Ditch - the focus of protests last year - even though the drop had been reduced and the fence itself remodelled. However, organisers were relieved that there were no serious injuries yesterday on a course where 21 horses have died.