Racing: Decision soon on death toll

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The Independent Online
THE FUTURE of all-weather hurdling at Southwell and Lingfield will be decided by the British Horseracing Board on 22 March as concern grows over the increase in equine deaths.

There were six fatalities from 1,487 runners on the all-weather tracks last year. But, in less than two months this year, 11 horses have been killed - 'a worrying deterioration' according to the BHB's Paul Greeves.

Royal Athlete, third in last year's Cheltenham Gold Cup, will not line up for the Festival's showpiece next month. Jenny Pitman's chaser has not recovered from an injury sustained at Newbury in November and is one of 17 horses pulled out of the race at yesterday's forfeit stage which shrank the field to 29.

CHAMPION HURDLE (withdrawals): Current Express, Destriero, Edimbourg, Fidway, Gaelic Myth, Kilcash, Loshian, Mysilv, Padre Mio, Persuasive, Precious Boy, Roger Ramjet, Roll A Dollar, Shujan, Staunch Friend, Sweet Duke, Sybillin, Tiananmen Square.

GOLD CUP (withdrawals): Cab On Target, Cahervillahow, Celtic Shot, Cool Ground, Crystal Spirit, Double Silk, General Idea, Granville Guest, King Of The Gales, Kings Fountain, Morley Street, Propero, Royal Athlete, The Illiad, Toby Tobias, Very Very Ordinary, Whispering Steel.

John Hislop, owner of Brigadier Gerard, has died aged 82.

Obituary, page 17