Swinburn dealt 'hammer blow' with Stotsfold death

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The death of any horse is regrettable; some, though, can be less easily spared than others. And for a relatively small operation like Walter Swinburn's, the loss of the best horse in the stable is particularly hard to bear. Seven-year-old Stotsfold, nine times a winner and earner of nearly £340,000, died yesterday from complications following a bout of colic, a loss which the trainer described as "a hammer blow".

Though the gelding, who had produced a career-best when winning at Sandown last month with his customary determination, was not a superstar like, say, Harbinger, he was hugely important to his connections as a flag bearer. This was his fifth season of competition in a 30-race career that had brought four Group Three wins and the thrill of a close third a year ago in the Grade One Arlington Million on his sole transatlantic venture.

Stotsfold developed colic symptoms last week and, after treatment, seemed to have recovered. But the problem flared up again and he died on the operating table at a Newmarket veterinary hospital. "He was unable to be saved," said Swinburn. "In the middle of a really good year for us we have been dealt this hammer blow. Horses like him are hard to find and impossible to replace. He will be greatly missed but the memories will linger a long time."

The line-ups for the teams for Saturday's Shergar Cup at Ascot, the four-cornered novelty international jockeys' team event, have been finalised after three original selections had to drop out. Fran Berry will replace Kieren Fallon, who is required for duty at Newmarket, on the Irish side consisting of team captain Richard Hughes and Pat Smullen. Alan Munro will join Jim Crowley and Hayley Turner to ride for Team GB after Ryan Moore opted for a family wedding.

With Frankie Dettori having to go to Haydock, Olivier Peslier will ride alongside Christophe Soumillon and Umberto Rigoli for Europe, with Anton Marcus, Luke Nolan and Yasunari Iwata representing the Rest Of The World.

Jockeys' title leader Paul Hanagan took his tally to 115 for the season at Newcastle yesterday with a double on Sharp Eclipse and Mufti, but picked up a riding ban that will rule him out of the valuable Ebor Handicap at York on Wednesday week. He was handed a one-day suspension for using his whip with unnecessary frequency on the first of his winners.

At Pontefract, trainer Mark Johnston achieved the unusual feat of saddling the first three in a handicap, when Yorgunnabelucky came home in front of Chilly Filly and Spirit Is Needed in the 12-furlong feature. It was a triumph for opportunism as the winner was not among the original entries, being added to the field when the race was reopened on Monday. "You pay your money and take your chance," said Johnston's assistant Jock Bennett. "The prize money was good and all three owners wanted to run." Highly appropriate for a stable whose motto is Always Trying.

Turf account

Sue Montgomery's Nap

Felsham (6.10 Sandown) From a stable that does well with sprinters, he produced a decent effort last time and is close to his last winning mark.

Next best

Sir Louis (3.10 Haydock).

One to watch

Ordinary handicapper Veroon (J G Given) does not win that often, but his turn may be approaching, judging by his staying-on third place from a wide draw at Hamilton.

Where the money's going

Punters continue to back Richard Hughes for the jockeys' title. He is now 11-2 from 7-1 with Skybet.

Chris McGrath's Nap

Residence And Spa (2.10 Haydock).