Winner of the 1998 Grand National, Earth Summit, has been put down at the age of 17, after being diagnosed with cancer of the liver and spleen. The horse was bought from Doncaster Sales for just 5,800 guineas on the recommendation of Peter Scudamore and went on to become the only horse to win Scottish, Welsh and Aintree Grand Nationals. His achievements were made all the more miraculous because he suffered a potential career ending injury in 1996, but returned to the track to win the ultimate steeplechase, thanks to the efforts of his trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies.

A good week for . . .

Racing Welfare. Memorabilia from Ascot is to be sold at Sotheby’s on 17 May to raise money for the charity. More than 300 artifacts, saved from the old grandstand before its demolition last year, are expected to raise £120,000. Items for sale include furniture and TVs from the Royal Box, items from the jockeys’ weighing room, furlong poles and a variety of racecourse signage, as well as the 109-year-old Ascot clock and the winner’s enclosure gates, which are expected to fetch up to £30,000.

But a bad week for . . .

The News of the World, which learnt that it could face a six-figure payment if the courts find in favour of Kieren Fallon. The six-times champion jockey has begun libel proceedings against the newspaper by lodging a writ in the London High Court claiming £150,000 in damages for allegations printed last year.

Fond farewells

The weighing room will be missing the presence of George Duffield in future. The 58-year-old has finally decided to hang up his boots following an outstanding career of more than 40 years. The tenth most successful jockey in British turf history in terms of race wins on home soil, Duffield’s career total will now remain at 2,547, including three classics. His decision to retire was prompted by problems with an injured shoulder.

Over the water

Farewell also to Japan’s Yukio Okabe, who has retired, aged 56, after 2,943 winners, including 31 of Japan’s 32 Group One races. But hello Waldemar Maciel, a Uruguayan apprentice who, last weekend at Montevideo’s Maronas National Racecourse, rode five winners in one day for the second time. Look out Frankie!

Quote-unquote

“We seem to be having a few technical problems, but hang in there” — Channel 4’s Cheltenham coverage goes down for a few agonising moments, mid-race, as a power supply problem hit the racecourse. Luckily, normal service was resumed before the winning post.

Remember next time

Brett Doyle was banned for three months by the Jockey Club for failing to provide a urine sample last year. Doyle actually faced a nine-month suspension for his forgetfulness last June, but escaped with a lesser punishment on the grounds that confusion in the testing procedure contributed to him overlooking the request for a sample after he had provided a breath test.

Teamwork

A new racecourse group has been launched, bringing together 11 southern-based tracks for marketing and promotional purposes. Racing South East, also supported by the British Horseracing Board, the Tote and Tourism South East, brings together Ascot, Brighton, Epsom, Folkestone, Fontwell, Kempton, Lingfield, Newbury, Plumpton, Sandown and Windsor, with the objective of attracting more visitors to the region.