Horses For Courses: Darlan loss a disaster but no-one is to blame

Rock On Ruby and Noel Fehily jump the final hurdle to go on and win the 32RedHurdle Race during the The Winter Afternoon Raceday at Doncaster Racecourse. PIC: PA
Rock On Ruby and Noel Fehily jump the final hurdle to go on and win the 32RedHurdle Race during the The Winter Afternoon Raceday at Doncaster Racecourse. PIC: PA
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It didn’t look good and sadly those first impressions proved correct.

Darlan’s horrendous final fence fall at Doncaster on Monday cost the six-year-old his life.

Racing was united with a feeling of numbness and sorrow but a surprising few chose to blame champion jockey Tony McCoy without, in my eyes, any sound reason for doing so.

I’m normally the first to point the finger at jockey errors but to proportion any blame on AP is madness.

We’ve dealt with equine fatalities plenty of times before on these pages and the fact is that accidental deaths are unfortunately part and parcel of the game.

But it is also wrong that only the top class horses who lose their lives are the ones that make the headlines.

In actual fact, three horses lost their lives on Monday, with Darlan joined by Desert Vision who broke his leg at Wolverhampton and Mujamead who suffered the same injury at Doncaster.

Yet it was only Darlan’s death that made the news. That’s wrong really, a bit unbalanced and unfair but it’s also just a fact that only the star fatalities will be the ones discussed.

What’s also a fact is that Darlan was one of the highest-profile losses imaginable and as the Racing Post put it: “one of the biggest losses in racecourse action on the hurdling front in recent decades.”

This horse could have been anything and had he jumped the last hurdle safe and soundly we would probably be talking about the favourite for the Champion Hurdle.

The likely winner of the race in my opinion such is the zest this horse has travelled with in his last two runs.

Yet instead we will never see this horse ever again with Darlan suffering a broken neck and reportedly dying instantly after a crunching fall at Town Moor’s final obstacle.

It’s a grim topic of conversation and one my wife Sarah banned me from talking about on Monday evening.

Like myself, the other half is a massive animal lover and detests the thought of anything being injured, hurt or even worse killed.

I actually felt numb at my desk for a good hour on learning that the horse had been put down which was more or less learned from a mass number of Tweets on Twitter.

There must have been at least a thousand Tweets in the minutes that followed Darlan’s fall with all united in firstly a fear for the horse’s life and then secondly grief.

But there were also an isolated few who chose to criticise McCoy, presumably for asking for a big jump at the last when Darlan was about to take the lead.

It will probably be water off a duck’s back to AP but if I were him I’d be livid.

What’s he supposed to have done wrong?

It’s not his fault that Darlan got the last obstacle wrong and AP will have felt the emotional heartache more than most on Monday. He asked for a decent final fence jump, as you do, and the horse didn’t produce it, end of story. Everybody is obviously entitled to their opinion but that’s mine.

Still, I don’t think there’s any doubting the overall feeling from Monday’s card at Doncaster - a hollow feeling of overwhelming sorrow.

RIP Darlan, the Champion Hurdle winner that never was.

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