Nicky Henderson in tears as Cheltenham Festival contender Darlan dies in 32Red Hurdle at Doncaster
Top trainer Nicky Henderson was in tears after his leading Cheltenham Festival contender Darlan died in a race today.
He sustained fatal injuries after falling at the last hurdle in the 32Red Hurdle at Doncaster.
It had been scheduled to be his final race before the Stan James Champion Hurdle at the Festival, for which he was one of the favourites.
Darlan, ridden by champion jockey AP McCoy, was challenging last year's Champion Hurdle winner Rock On Ruby for the lead when he came down.
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Henderson said: "It's some game, isn't it? Why is it always the good ones?"
Darlan won six of his nine races over hurdles, including at Cheltenham in November 2011, and finished second in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle at last year's Festival.
Rock On Ruby went on to win by three lengths, but his trainer Harry Fry was upset for Henderson, McCoy and Darlan's owner JP McManus.
He said Rock On Ruby's next race would be the Champion Hurdle on March 12.
Fry said: "The whole season has been built around Cheltenham and hopefully we can go there full of confidence."