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Godsmejudge wins Scottish Grand National for Alan King

Godsmejudge delivers Scottish Grand National glory for King and Hutchinson

By
Jonathan Powell

PUBLISHED:

15:47 GMT, 20 April 2013

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UPDATED:

19:08 GMT, 20 April 2013

Scots-born trainer Alan King was overcome with emotion after his smart novice Godsmejudge gave him his first triumph in the Coral Scottish Grand National at Ayr.

King, who was brought up near Glasgow, admitted: 'This means as much to me as any of the wins I've had. It is like coming home.'

National glory: Wayne Hutchinson celebrates Scottish Grand National glory with Godsmejudge

National glory: Wayne Hutchinson celebrates Scottish Grand National glory with Godsmejudge

But for another Scotsman, Ryan
Mania, and his mount Auroras Encore, this proved one National too many
after their shock success at Aintree a fortnight ago.

The pair were soon struggling towards the rear as they sought to emulate Red Rum's famous double in 1974.

Though they briefly made progress at
halfway, they were out of the race long before the end. Mania was
clearly thrilled to be riding again so soon after a heavy fall at Hexham
the day after the National that saw him airlifted to hospital by
helicopter.

Home alone: Godsmejudge clears the last

Home alone: Godsmejudge clears the last

Godsmejudge, a 12-1 shot, won with eye-catching ease after jumping to the front early on the final circuit.

Big Occasion threatened briefly
early in the straight, but was never going to catch the leader. Jubilant
jockey Wayne Hutchinson, gaining the biggest win of his career, said:
'For a little horse, Godsmejudge is like a rubber ball, so enthusiastic.
He's relentless with his jumping and galloping and soon got into a
great rhythm.

'Once we led, it seemed awfully quiet behind us.'

King spent many years as a hard-working assistant to legendary trainer David Nicholson.

He briefly took over the licence
from Nicholson before sending out a conveyor belt of winners from his
current base at Barbury Castle, Wiltshire.

This has been a testing season for
King, with several of his best horses out of action, but he is finishing
it with a flourish with the able assistance of the ever-reliable
Hutchinson.

Video: Policeman attacks Belgrano"s Juan Quiroga with a truncheon in Argentinian football match

Video: More football violence, but this time it's the POLICE attacking one of the players!

By
Charles Reynolds

PUBLISHED:

00:40 GMT, 4 March 2013

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UPDATED:

00:40 GMT, 4 March 2013

The seemingly never-ending problem of football related violence in Argentina reared its head once again this weekend when a member of the police struck a Belgrano player in the face with a truncheon.

The incident happened at the very end of Newell’s Old Boys clash with Belgrano, with the Rosario club leading 1-0.

Trouble began at the Estadio Marcelo Bielsa when sections of the visiting support began throwing projectiles at the home fans and the police moved in to usher them out of the stadium.

Scroll down for video

Police brutality: Belgrano's Juan Quiroga on the floor after being hit in the face by a police truncheon

Police brutality: Belgrano's Juan Quiroga on the floor after being hit in the face by a police truncheon. And the moment he was hit (below)

The game was suspended as the police used the somewhat heavy-handed tactic of using truncheons and rubber bullets to attempt to calm the Belgrano fans, who only responded with more aggression.

Members of the Belgrano team moved to calm their own supporters but were also turned on by riot police with Juan Quiroga getting kicked in the leg and then shockingly Gastn Turus getting hit in the face by a truncheon.

The defender, who suffered a deep cut to his eye, told the media: 'The cop hit me with his truncheon.'

Juan Quiroga

In the ensuing melee Belgrano had Luciano Lollo sent off for clashing with a policeman and to add insult to injury they went on to concede a second goal when the game eventually resumed ten minutes later.

The club have subsequently issued a statement condemning the police violence which marred Saturday’s game: 'Belgrano repudiates, rejects and publicly and judicially denounces the pressure and generalised violence to which their supporters and professional squad were subjected to by Santa Fe (province) police.'

'But is it only the police who are responsible The Santa Fe provincial government knows this goes on. More than once we have presented statements and videos to the AFA. They also know and we expect a solution.

Juan Quiroga

Juan Quiroga

Juan Quiroga

'We won't cease in our repudiation, in denouncing all those involved and in the search for an end to the social and club violence that reigns at grounds, especially in Santa Fe province.'

Belgrano president Armando Perez has also asked Rosario prosecutor Enrique Paz to take a statement from Turus after the defender was denied the chance at a police station in the city, instead being charged with aggressive behaviour.

'I went to denounce an aggression towards me and I got my fingers painted,' the defender told local media as a result of having his fingerprints taken by Rosario police.

Millennium Stadium to get new plastic pitch in time for 2015 Rugby World Cup

Artificial pitch to be laid at Millennium Stadium in time for 2015 World Cup

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UPDATED:

16:01 GMT, 16 December 2012

Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium looks set for a new plastic pitch in time to host the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

The troublesome turf at Millennium Stadium is currently being replaced several times a year and the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) think an artificial surface would solve the problem.

The steep stands in Cardiff block the sunlight and ground-staff have had well-publicised problems in trying to prepare suitable pitches.

The steep stands at the Millennium Stadium block the sunlight

The steep stands at the Millennium Stadium block the sunlight

Ground-staff have had problems preparing a suitable playing surface

Ground-staff have had problems preparing a suitable playing surface

WRU chief executive Roger Lewis told the Sunday Times an artificial pitch ‘is being given serious consideration. We are looking at the implications.’

A layer of stone, a thick black rubber shock pad and a covering of artificial green yarn 5cm deep with an in-fill of black rubber crumb make up the proposed new surface.

The International Rugby Board have approved the surface with the only sticking point for the WRU being whether it can handle the heavy equipment used for music shows, which provide a good source of revenue.

The Millennium Stadium hosts Welsh rugby internationals including Six Nations matches

The Millennium Stadium hosts Welsh rugby internationals including Six Nations matches

Traditionalists are unhappy that an artificial pitch removes bad bounces and the need for teams to change or adapt their style for the conditions.

The Twickenham pitch was relaid during the close season with a proportion being synthetic turf.

Saracens will move to their new home Allianz Park in February and will become the first team to stage professional rugby on an artificial pitch.

SARACENS LEADING THE WAY

Mouritz Botha of Saracens catches the ball during the Heineken Cup

Saracen’s new 20million stadium Allianz Park will host the first professional rugby union match to be staged on a non-grass surface on February 16 when the home side entertain Exeter Chiefs.

The RFU invested in the new ground in Barnet to give England a place to train should their normal fields be frozen.

The length of the grass yarn has been set by the IRB, and also by FIFA for football purposes, at 50mm. 300 tons of sand is laid to stabilise the surface before 30mm of rubber crumb infill is added.

Installation costs are 530,000 including 100,000 for the first replacement of the grass yarn after 10 years.

An artificial surface is a lot cheaper to maintain than real grass as it just needs to be brushed twice a week to loosen the rubber crumb.

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix final practice: Sebastian Vettel has problems

Problems for Vettel as championship leader's car falters in final practice

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UPDATED:

12:19 GMT, 3 November 2012

Sebastian Vettel endured a nerve-wracking final practice session in the build-up to qualifying for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The reliability issue title rival Fernando Alonso had perhaps been praying for materialised in the closing 60-minute outing at the Yas Marina circuit where McLaren's Lewis Hamilton again led the way for the sixth time in 12 attempts over the four years at this track.

Vettel completed nothing more than two installation laps before then spending all bar the final four minutes in the Red Bull garage as the team worked on a brake problem.

Hope floats: Sebastian Vettel experienced problems in the final practice before qualifying in Abu Dhabi

Hope floats: Sebastian Vettel experienced problems in the final practice before qualifying in Abu Dhabi

Hope floats: Sebastian Vettel experienced problems in the final practice before qualifying in Abu Dhabi

On the medium-compound Pirelli tyres, the slightly slower but more durable rubber, Hamilton posted a top time of one minute 42.148secs, before all teams switched to a blast on the softs in the late stages.

Hamilton appeared on course to better Vettel's best of Friday's when he set a 1:41.751 when he was quickest in the first two sectors.

However, he was forced to ease up in the final sector and finish with a timesheet-topping 1:42.130, 0.290secs ahead of team-mate Jenson Button.

As for Vettel, it was touch and go as to whether he would make it out on track, but his team performed wonders to ensure he had a shot on the soft tyres.

Even with his limited running as he managed just two quick laps, the 25-year-old reigning double world champion still posted the quickest middle sector to finish third overall, half a second behind Hamilton.

As for Alonso, there is likely to be concern in the Ferrari garage, particularly as the team broke the FIA curfew – a period of time when mechanics are not allowed to work on the car – for a second straight day.

Playing catch-up: Fernando Alonso will hope to make the most of his rivals' poor run

Playing catch-up: Fernando Alonso will hope to make the most of his rivals' poor run

The Spaniard, who trails Vettel by 13 points following the German's run of four successive victories, could only manage eighth quickest and was a second down on Hamilton, something he cannot repeat in qualifying if he is to have any chance in Sunday's race.

Sandwiched in between himself and Vettel were Mark Webber in his Red Bull, the Force India of Nico Hulkenberg, Lotus' Romain Grosjean and Williams of Pastor Maldonado.

Behind Alonso were Kimi Raikkonen in his Lotus and Paul di Resta in his Force India, the Scot appearing happier after his team opted for a change of chassis given his recent issues and without a point in his last three races, finishing 1.2secs down.

Ferrari's Felipe Massa was 11th, 1.350secs adrift, underlining the problems faced by his team, with Sergio Perez 12th in his Sauber.

Mercedes are also struggling as Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher were down in 13th and 14th, around 1.5secs down, with Kamui Kobayashi 15th in his Sauber.

At the rear of the field was Narain Karthikeyan in his HRT, nearly five seconds adrift and half a second behind team-mate Pedro de la Rosa.

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix: Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button finish top two after first practice session

Hamilton sets the pace in Abu Dhabi as Button says team-mates departure will be 'a big loss'

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UPDATED:

11:43 GMT, 2 November 2012

Lewis Hamilton continued his love affair with the Yas Marina circuit to lead the way in initial practice ahead of Sunday's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

For the fifth time in 10 practice sessions at the futuristic track, Hamilton set the pace as he spearheaded a McLaren one-two, finishing exactly a third of a second quicker than Jenson Button.

Hamilton's lap for the 5.554-kilometre track of one minute 43.285 seconds was also set on the harder of the two Pirelli compounds for this weekend, the medium, with the quicker soft rubber being saved for session two.

Setting the pace: Lewis Hamilton was fastest after first practice

Setting the pace: Lewis Hamilton was fastest after first practice

Setting the pace: Hamilton leaves the pits during the first practice session

Setting the pace: Hamilton leaves the pits during the first practice session

RESULTS AFTER FIRST PRACTICE

1. Hamilton
2. Button
3. Vettel
4. Alonso
5. Webber
6. Schumacher
7. Maldonado
8. Rosberg
9. Bottas
10. Raikkonen

Over the three years the race has
been staged in Abu Dhabi, Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel have locked out
the front row of the grid between them – the latter claiming two poles
to the former's one.

After the opening 90 minutes today
Vettel was forced to settle for the third-quickest time, with the
25-year-old German finishing 0.765secs behind Hamilton, with everybody
else over a second down.

That included Ferrari's Fernando
Alonso, the only driver who can realistically stop Vettel from making it
three titles in a row as the duo go into the last three races separated
by 13 points.

With Ferrari experimenting with new
parts, Alonso was fourth, a fraction over a second off Hamilton's pace,
and a quarter of a second behind Vettel.

Red Bull's Mark Webber was the best of the rest, followed by Michael Schumacher in his Mercedes and Williams' Pastor Maldonado.

Meanwhile, Button believes Hamilton's impending exit from McLaren will be 'a big loss' to the team.

Big loss: Jenson Button says McLaren will miss Hamilton next season

Big loss: Jenson Button says McLaren will miss Hamilton next season

Grosjean confident he'll be at Lotus next season

Romain Grosjean sees no reason why he will not be partnering Kimi Raikkonen for a second season at Lotus next year.

Earlier this week Lotus confirmed Raikkonen had signed a new one-year deal following a successful return to Formula One after two years competing in rallies and NASCAR.

Lotus, however, made no mention of French driver Grosjean, perhaps unsurprising given the errors he has made this year and penalties incurred.

After two races without incident, it may be Lotus are waiting until the end of the campaign to ensure Grosjean has learned lessons and they can again trust him for the future.

Grosjean, 26, is confident of his seat for 2013 as he said: “With the team we're happy together, they've put a lot of confidence and faith in me during a hard time.

'I'm showing them I'm working and improving and trying to sort out all the problems, whilst keeping my speed.

'But there is no reason that it goes bad for the future.'
Grosjean has confirmed Lotus kept him informed of Raikkonen's deal, and that it 'didn't come as a surprise'.

When Lotus will make an announcement with regard to his own position is open to question, with Grosjean adding: 'I've no idea, to be honest.

'(Team principal) Eric Boullier is better placed than me to answer that.'

Button has previously made it clear
he has enjoyed pitting his wits against a fellow world champion in
Hamilton these past three years, helping to make him a better driver.

Although there will be no second crown
for either man this season, a 24-point gap between the British duo
means Hamilton is set to leave for Mercedes with a 2-1 victory in their
inter-team rivalry based on total points at the end of the season.

Rising star Sergio Perez may have been
recruited as replacement, but the 32-year-old Button cannot help but
feel Hamilton's departure will be felt by the team.

'With Lewis leaving, obviously the team loses a very fast driver,' said Button.

'He's
a guy that's achieved a lot with the team, wins and obviously a world
championship – the last guy to win a world championship for the team.

'It is a big loss, but things change and you learn to move on and adapt. It's definitely not the end of two strong drivers at McLaren.'

Although Perez has acquitted himself well at Sauber over the last two years, the 22-year-old Mexican still remains an unknown quantity.

Perez has conjured three superb podiums this season but his results have otherwise been sporadic, and notably since he was announced as Hamilton's replacement he has failed to score a point in three races.

Assessing Perez's potential, Button added: 'I think Sergio will be fast, but I really don't know.

'He's obviously unknown in a McLaren because he's not there yet. But it's a great opportunity for Checo, and I'm sure he will take it with both hands.'

Hamilton, meanwhile, insists he has no regrets about joining Mercedes, who are currently on their worst run since returning to the sport at the start of 2010.

Like Perez, since Hamilton announced he was moving to the Brackley-based team on a three-year contract, they have also failed to pick up a point in the last three races.

When you consider that in the previous 52 races Mercedes had not scored in only four, it highlights just how much they have plumbed the depths.

Asked by Press Association Sport about Mercedes' run, Hamilton said: “I've been told about it.

'It makes me even more driven to help them score points, and no, I'm not thinking 'have I made right decision'

'I'm very happy with the decision I made. What is happening to them doesn't have any impact on that.

'People do sometimes lose their way. Even we (McLaren) have struggled in the past and not scored points.'

Appreciating the size of the task awaiting him at Mercedes when he officially joins on January 1, Hamilton said: 'I already knew how big it was going to be.

'I really thought about it long and hard, and I could see how big it was. Perhaps it's now growing.

'But as a task I'm really excited about it, excited to meet new people and to being in a different environment, and to mould myself into that environment.'

Poland 1 England 1: Match report

Poland 1 England 1: Three Lions fail to roar but Roy's boys top group after Rooney gets lucky in Warsaw

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UPDATED:

16:49 GMT, 17 October 2012

England scraped their way clear at the top of World Cup qualifying Group H after weathering a storm of a very different kind in Warsaw.

Less than 24 hours after the original fixture was washed away, Roy Hodgson's side managed a share of the points under the roof in Warsaw.

The hosts looked sharper during the opening 45 minutes but it was England who went in at the break with their noses in front.

Wayne Rooney certainly attempted a header from Steven Gerrard's corner and the ball hit his shoulder before ending up in the back of the net.

The Poles looked lively from the start of the second half and continued to put pressure on the visitors but Jermain Defoe had a chance to put the game to be when he fluffed his lines from close range following another delivery from Gerrard.

Rooney had England's next chance but he blasted over from a Danny Welbeck pass and England were made to pay as Poland went up the pitch and scored – Kamil Gilk heading home with Joe Hart stranded.

Full report to follow…

Shouldering the responsibility: Wayne Rooney managed to turn the ball into the Poland net for the opener

Shouldering the responsibility: Wayne Rooney managed to turn the ball into the Poland net for the opener

Shouldering the responsibility: Wayne Rooney managed to turn the ball into the Poland net for the opener

Perfect 10: England striker Wayne Rooney celebrates scoring the first goal in Warsaw

Perfect 10: England striker Wayne Rooney celebrates scoring the first goal in Warsaw

Nice one: Steven Gerrard congratulates Wayne Rooney after England's first-half opener

Nice one: Steven Gerrard congratulates Wayne Rooney after England's first-half opener

Where's the rain The roof was on in Warsaw after Poland v England was washed out the night before

Where's the rain The roof was on in Warsaw after Poland v England was washed out the night before

Dangerous: Poland star Robert Lewandowski gets away from England skipper Steven Gerrard

Dangerous: Poland star Robert Lewandowski gets away from England skipper Steven Gerrard

Getting stuck in: England defender Joleon Lescott tries to halt the progress of Robert Lewandowski as the Poles threaten

Getting stuck in: England defender Joleon Lescott tries to halt the progress of Robert Lewandowski as the Poles threaten

Game for a laugh: Poland supporters turned up with swimming goggles and rubber rings... just in case

Game for a laugh: Poland supporters turned up with swimming goggles and rubber rings… just in case

Roof it up the park: A cheeky advert from Vauxhall could be seen at the side of the pitch

Roof it up the park: A cheeky advert from Vauxhall could be seen at the side of the pitch

Head boy: Kamil Glik beats Joe Hart and the England defence to the ball for Poland's equaliser

Head boy: Kamil Glik beats Joe Hart and the England defence to the ball for Poland's equaliser

All square: Kamil Glik salutes the crowd after drawing Poland level against England

All square: Kamil Glik salutes the crowd after drawing Poland level against England

Swansea closing on Itay Shechter from Kaiserslautern

Laudrup to continue Swansea rebuilding with loan deal for Israel striker Shechter

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UPDATED:

09:30 GMT, 8 August 2012


Wanted: Kaiserslautern striker Itay Shechter

Wanted: Kaiserslautern striker Itay Shechter

Swansea are close to sealing a season-long loan deal for Israel striker Itay Shechter.

The 25-year old forward is waiting for his work permit to be granted before his move from Kaiserslautern can get the rubber stamp.

Shechter was said to have been at the Liberty Stadium on Tuesday night to watch the pre-season friendly victory against Blackpool, according to The Western Mail.

Danny Graham hit a hat-trick, while 2m signing Michu also found the net in a 4-2 win in Michael Laudrup's first game in charge at the Liberty Stadium.

Laudrup is set to hold talks with Joe Allen on Wednesday in a bid to settle the Wales midfielder's future following a 12.5m bid from former boss Brendan Rodgers at Liverpool.

The 22-year-old playmaker is due back from Team GB duty at the Olympics.

Wimbledon 2012: Serena Williams questions championship security

Williams questions Wimbledon security after she is mobbed by fans following win

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UPDATED:

21:39 GMT, 2 July 2012

Serena Williams said Wimbledon schedulers should take security into account before putting her on Court No 2 in future.

The sixth seed was ‘almost knocked over’ by dozens of excited fans following her win over Yaroslava Shvedova on Monday.

Getting through: Serena Williams celebrates her fourth round win over Kazakhstan's Yaroslava Shvedova

Getting through: Serena Williams celebrates her fourth round win over Kazakhstan's Yaroslava Shvedova

Four-time champion Serena made the
quarter finals by winning a tough encounter 6-1, 2-6, 7-5 then faced
another fight on her 170-yard walk to the locker rooms.

She said: ‘I literally was almost knocked over.

‘There were security guards in there just going nuts and screaming.

Recognisable face: Williams says she was mobbed by fans after her match on Court No 2

Recognisable face: Williams says she was mobbed by fans after her match on Court No 2

‘I’ve never heard them scream so loud. It was crazy out there. I was totally mobbed.

‘I thought I was going to fall down.
Maybe it can be taken into consideration.’ Asked if she was frightened,
Williams, 30, smiled: ‘No, I wasn’t scared. ‘Nobody is going to knock me
over, for real. I’d like to see that happen.

‘Maybe that’s why I got on Court No 2, because they knew I could back myself up.

Looking for another title: Williams has won Wimbledon four times and is looking for a fifth

Looking for another title: Williams has won Wimbledon four times and is looking for a fifth

‘I guess I really didn’t need (the security)!’

It was a tough match, too. The
decider went with serve until 5-5 when Shvedova sent over two double
faults in a row to hand Williams the decisive break. The American still
needed the luck of an unintentional lob, which lofted over a stranded
Shvedova, to fight back from 0-30 in the final game to rubber stamp
victory.

Cue a trademark Serena scream of delight, and that tussle through the throng.

Bahrain extremist group trying to get grand prix called off

Extremists target Bahrain Grand Prix as protesters demand Ecclestone calls off race

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UPDATED:

12:34 GMT, 16 March 2012

An extremist group in Bahrain are vowing to do everything in their power to ensure this year's grand prix does not go ahead.

The Coalition Youth of the 14 Feb Revolution have called on F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone to call off the race on April 22 as they claim the situation in the Gulf kingdom has 'not eased but exacerbated'.

The Coalition have been described by one local source as 'one of the most active in terms of organising protests, a big driving force who represent a wide number of fed up young Bahrainis'.

Protest: The country is currently in turmoil

Protest: The country is currently in turmoil

At present Ecclestone has insisted the race will take place, even though there are reports of daily clashes between protesters and police.

In particular last Friday tens of thousands of Bahrainis took to the streets in a pro-democracy protest, described as the biggest since last February's 'Day of Rage' that was the catalyst behind the cancellation of last year's race.

On Thursday police were forced to use tear gas, rubber bullets and sound grenades as they attempted to quell youths throwing petrol bombs in a number of villages on the outskirts of Manama.

Despite the ongoing violence, F1 shows no sign of backing down unless the unrest again leads to the loss of life, as was the case a year ago.

The letter from the Coalition to Ecclestone is dated February 28, but was made public today.

It reads: 'Mr Ecclestone, we are very disappointed at your recent statement confirming the organisation of the F1 race in Bahrain, notwithstanding the prevalent political unrest, insecurity, widespread violations of the most basic human rights and the atrocious crimes perpetrated every day against the people of Bahrain.

On: Bernie Ecclestone (right) still wants the race to go ahead

On: Bernie Ecclestone (right) still wants the race to go ahead

'Those reasons were the same that led you to call off the race last year, a situation that has not eased but exacerbated.

'Your statement has done much wrong to the F1 race and given a bad impression the F1 races are all about money and greed.

'Organising a F1 race in Bahrain at a time when children are being killed in the streets at the hands of the regime mercenaries will haunt the F1 reputation forever and will imprint it with the image of death and human rights violations.

'We in the Coalition of the Youth of 14 Feb Revolution address you this letter to say clearly we do not accept the distortion of this popular sport for the sake of obliging a failing dictatorship.

'We demand you reverse your decision and call off the F1 race in Bahrain, else wise we will have no choice but to do everything in our capacity to ensure the failure of the race rather than see it stained with blood and shame.

'We will appeal to all athletes of the world to support us in this endeavour, to stand in solidarity with our people, and to save the reputation of F1 races from the irreparable moral damage that will ensue from the shameful disregard and unethical attitude towards the suffering of our nation and its legitimate struggle against a barbaric and despotic regime.'

Hopeful: Ross Brawn also wants the race to go ahead

Hopeful: Ross Brawn also wants the race to go ahead

Despite such strong words, F1 remains eager to attend, with the race operating under the slogan 'UniF1ed' on posters and tickets.

Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn said: 'We want to go there.

'It's been a great place to race in the past. It has its troubles, we hope those troubles are largely behind them and if racing can help bring things together then we should try and do it.

'We need to monitor the situation, try and make a judgement.

'People who've been there are telling us the situation is much, much better than it was 12 months ago.

'So, as I say, if Formula One can help to improve the situation then that would be a great thing for us to do.

'But it's certainly clearly a lot calmer situation than it was 12 months ago.'

Racing whip rule changes: Amendments agreed

Racing chiefs rubber stamp softening of whip rule changes for Cheltenham

Sweeping changes to the controversial whip rules are set to come into effect before the Cheltenham Festival.

In his first major challenge since being
appointed the British Horseracing Authority's new chief executive, Paul
Bittar proposed fresh amendments which were approved at a board
meeting.

The board has given the thumbs-up to a fundamental change to the rules governing use of the whip, which is due to be implemented in early March, together with revisions to the existing penalty structure, which come into effect on Thursday.

Whipped into shape: The rules are about to changed once again

Whipped into shape: The rules are about to changed once again

Rather than it being an automatic breach when a rider uses the whip eight times on the Flat and nine times over jumps, the figures become the trigger point for the stewards to review the ride in question.

Stewards will then consider how the rider has used the whip in the course of exceeding the allowed number before deciding whether a breach has occurred and a penalty is warranted.

Bittar said: 'Over four months have passed since the introduction of the first set of rules following the whip review.

'Despite a number of changes to both the rule and the accompanying penalty structure it is clear that while many objectives of the review are being met, and in particular those pertaining to horse welfare, a rule which polices the use of the whip based solely on a fixed number of strikes is fundamentally flawed.

Leap of faith: There was an outcry from the racing fraternity when the new rules were first introduced

Leap of faith: There was an outcry from the racing fraternity when the new rules were first introduced

'While well intentioned, and in accordance with initial requests from the jockeys for clarity and consistency via a fixed number, in practice the new rules have repeatedly thrown up examples of no consideration being given to the manner in which the whip is used as well as riders being awarded disproportionate penalties for the offence committed.

'The challenge is to have in place a rule and penalty structure which meets the objectives for fairness and proportionality outlined in the Whip Review while retaining the positives which have been a product of the changes to date.

'These include the virtual removal of all serious breaches and an overall reduction in the number of offences.

'We are confident there is not a welfare problem associated with the use of the cushioned whip in British racing.

'The objective of this proposal is to keep jockeys riding to a similar standard as they are now with regard to their significantly reduced use of the whip, but with added discretion and common sense applied by stewards when considering whether a rider is in breach of the rules.'

Bittar's aim has been to try to prevent the Cheltenham Festival being overshadowed by the issue that has dogged the sport under both codes since last October.