Doncaster proves deadly for Darlan

darlanThe Champion Hurdle picture took a new turn at Doncaster yesterday in the most appalling way possible. Second favourite Darlan took a crashing fall at the last fence, broke his neck, an injury that quickly proved fatal.

The fall came as a complete shock to the small crowd. AP McCoy had carried out a tracking job behind Rock On Ruby before moving out to deliver a challenge as they approached the final flight. He merely tickled the top of the birch before turning head over heels.

I have to own up to being the jinx on Darlan. I’ve seen him race twice. Both occasions were re-arranged races. I’ve seen him fall twice. I didn’t see him win any of the other five hurdle races he ran in. Last February I went to Newbury and saw the Betfred Hurdle, in which Darlan was going strongly when he came down two out. Yesterday I was at Doncaster.

I rather wish I hadn’t gone. Like most people there, I barely registered the end of the race, as my attention was on Darlan. There were no great cheers for Rock On Ruby when he crossed the line in front, and just a ripple of applause as Noel Fehily walked him back to the enclosures. The relief that comes when a fallen horse gets to its feet were missing yesterday, and it felt as if almost everyone at the course, trainers and jockeys included, would rather the rest of the card had been called off.

It was the second top quality horse in less a year that McCoy and owner JP McManus had shared the pain of losing a star. Gold Cup winner Synchronised lost his life in the Grand National last year after falling at Becher’s Brook. Nicky Henderson, trainer of Darlan said all that needed saying after the race. He was fighting to hold back the tears when he said, “He didn’t deserve that. Why is it always the good ones? Some game, isn’t it.”

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4 replies
  1. Chris Worrall says:

    It wasn’t a good day at all, even worse for Mujamead and Desert Vision and everyone connected to those two. It’s always sad to lose a competitor, but we lost three yesterday.

  2. Ian says:

    Whilst I am not the biggest fan of Henderson or McCoy nor did I think Darlan would win the champion Hurdle it is nevertheless a tragedy for all concerned and as always on these occasions you feel for the owners and especially the stable staff who have to drive home with an empty space to an empty box.

    Those twits who take to Twitter to slag off McCoy are basically talking out of their backsides as in my humble opinion he did nothing wrong one right Charlie even said that had Geraghty been riding it would not have happened – again totally wrong.

    Luck and Fate in horse racing is on the fine margins of a split second and it could be I suppose that some horses like humans know how to cushion a fall better or instinctly handle falls better than others as the fall yesterday as you say was very similar to the one at Newbury.

    As long as horses race there will be such accidents and more horses die from injuries in a field than from racing and fundamentally they are fragile creatures….

    The only minuscule saving grace is that he died doing what he did best and it would seem that death was instantaneous and although it is scant compensation you have to try to take what small things you can out of such a tragic event.

    I once stood by the top hurdle in the straight at Ludlow where a Phillip Hobbs hurdler suffered exactly the same fate and to watch a horse have a bolt put through its head to put it out of its misery is an image so grotesque and horrible that it will never leave me!

  3. Mike says:

    Hi Ian – I won’t join in the debate about McCoy on twitter, ( I do not subscribe to it!!), but just to say on the McCoy subject – most of the time that I have backed him, or been there to see him ride, he has nearly always fallen or not bothered to ride the horse out. He has lost me quite a bit of money! I won’t get on to my ‘pet’ subject of race ‘fixing’, but RIP Darlan.



  4. Johnny5 says:

    Sad end to a great horse

    McCoy fixing races / no good – WHAT are u on about !! For every bad ride he has I could tell u of a hundred where the horse wouldn’t have won without his riding drive

    U are talking out of your pocket when u have obviously made (quite a few) bad decisions

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