Racing: Sedgefield avoids ban

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THE JOCKEY Club yesterday rejected demands that racing at Sedgefield should be suspended following last Tuesday's pile-up in which three horses were killed. The Club gave the go-ahead for the County Durham track to stage its scheduled fixture on Tuesday.

Course officials are to implement changes before Tuesday to try to ensure there is no repeat of the mayhem after three horses ran loose during a novice chase. John Maxse, the Jockey Club spokesman, said that exit gates must be made more accessible for loose horses immediately.

"What happened on Tuesday was a freak accident and we have taken steps to minimise the problem," Maxse said.

Bob Bowden, chairman of Sedgefield, said: "There's an excellent entry of 125 for the meeting." He admitted that the track was "more vulnerable than most" to incidents like last Tuesday's because of the track's narrowness and tightness.

But he said: "The Jockey Club has given us a licence and they wouldn't have done if they weren't satisfied that the course was safe for spectators, horses and jockeys."

An animal rights group, Animal Concern, had called for racing to be suspended on Tuesday. But Bowden said he did not wish to comment on precautions the course would be taking to guard against possible action by protesters.

Sue Smith, a leading Yorkshire-based trainer, has vowed never to have another runner at the course.

The Smith-trained Skane River was killed along with Royal Scimitar and Floss The Boss in last Tuesday's carnage.