Thursday's Sedgefield meeting abandoned after two fatalities

Thursday's National Hunt meeting at Sedgefield was abandoned after two horses were fatally injured in what proved to be the final race of the afternoon.

While the first four races took place without incident, that was sadly not the case in the Stanley And Lillian Thompson Memorial Mares' Novices' Hurdle.

Five runners went to post for the near two-and-a-half-mile contest, with Ruth Jefferson's £110,000 purchase Thermusa the 4/5 favourite to follow a recent course and distance success in the hands of champion jockey Brian Hughes, and Donald McCain's Sweet Auburn rated her main rival at 6-4 under Peter Kavanagh.

Sweet Auburn was pulled up injured between the third- and second-last hurdles, at which point Thermusa looked likely to go and maintain her unbeaten record after seemingly mastering 6/1 shot Anti Bridgie.

However, she too broke down badly on the run to the final obstacle, leaving Anti Bridgie in the clear to win comfortably.

A course inspection subsequently took place, with Hughes, McCain and leading jockey Sean Quinlan part of the delegation to check the track.

And following lengthy discussions with participants, clerk of the course Michael Naughton ultimately decided to call off proceedings on safety grounds.

"Nothing was found, but ultimately the safety of horses is paramount, which is why we have chosen to abandon racing," he told Sky Sports Racing.

"A couple of the trainers voiced their concerns, just because their horses were running and obviously they have owners to keep happy as well - and having lost two horses in the same race, we decided to abandon.

"Everybody that went up (to the final bend) said the ground is perfectly fine. Both bends have being realigned and there is an adverse camber on that bend turning into the home straight. Everybody has said it has been an age old thing here and that is what they're blaming it on.

"We're erring on the side of safety for horse welfare and jockey welfare. It will be all hands on deck, we'll do a thorough search of the top bend and make sure that everything is 100 per cent right for racing next week.

"The ground is perfectly fine, everybody has said it is perfectly fine - they've raced around a bend five times today and it has been okay in every other race.

"It's very unfortunate. Sincere condolences to all the connections of the two horses."

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