British Horseracing Authority decides to save four-runner Southwell race

• Regulators defend decision to reprieve Southwell contest
• Trainer James Tate is responsible for half of the field

Southwell racecourse has narrowly escaped the deletion of a race from its programme for the second week running under the British Horseracing Authority’s new scheme to tackle the problem of small fields, after the regulator decided that a four-runner event at the course on Thursday could not be scrapped due to a lack of suitable alternatives for the declared runners.

A four-runner fillies’ handicap scheduled for Southwell’s meeting on 1 January last week was scratched from the schedule just 24 hours before it was due to be run, prompting anger from the owners and trainers of the horses engaged. The £5,000 32Red Handicap at the same course on Thursday has also attracted just four runners, having been designated as “at risk” when fewer than 10 entries were received at the five-day stage. In this case, however, the BHA has opted to let the race go ahead, on a card on which all but one of the seven races will be contested by a single-figure field.

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