Cheltenham tears after fatal injury to Starchitect overshadows Guitar Pete win
On a Cheltenham afternoon when the love of racing professionals for their horses was again made obvious, the connections of smart chaser Starchitect were left devastated after he suffered a life-ending injury when set to turn the Caspiar Caviar Gold Cup into a procession.
The tears shed by Nicky Henderson following the victory of My Tent Or Yours later in the afternoon underlined his feelings for an animal in his care.
They were tears of joy. For the Starchitect camp the emotions were at the opposite extreme.
Their six-year-old had led at the third-last fence of the £120,000 feature and shown a remarkable turn of foot under Tom Scudamore that sent him clear of the chasing pack.
Had he jumped the last two fences he would surely have won, but before he could get to the penultimate obstacle he suffered a devastating leg injury that stunned and saddened those watching.
The Nicky Richards-trained Guitar Pete went on to triumph under conditional jockey Ryan Day, yet they were quick to agree that everyone's first thoughts would be with those who had just lost an extremely talented horse."He never felt better and it probably looked that way," said Scudamore. "He was going well coming off the bend. He has just gone wrong turning in. There was no sign of anything.
"I've not seen a replay of it and I'm not going to. It is very sad for everyone. I just feel sad for the horse as he has been knocking on the door so many times and today possibly was going to be his day and it wasn't to be. I don't know why it has happened. You couldn't blame anybody."
Starchitect, who last month finished a close second in Cheltenham's BetVictor Gold Cup, raced in the colours of Paul and Clare Rooney, whose racing manager Jason Maguire looked after the horse during his summer holiday.
"You do get attached to them when you see them every day and feed them," said Maguire, adding: "It makes it that much harder."
This was also hard for trainer David Pipe, who said: "It was just a freak accident. No horse deserves that. He has been running in all of these big races and it looked to be his today. He was a tough customer and a real character."
With many eyes still focused on the stricken Starchitect, the race's finish was fought out to a subdued commentary by Simon Holt, who called home Guitar Pete a clear winner from Clan Des Obeaux.
"It's an unfortunate part of the game and it's not nice when it happens," said Day, for whom this was an important success. "He was my first ever ride at Cheltenham a month ago but we nearly fell at the first. We've had another go and it's paid off.
"This is a big thing for my career. You need winners like this to keep moving forward. I've been with Nicky for two years and it keeps getting better and better."
Richards, who was watching from Doncaster, said: "It was a great result for the horse and for Greystoke as well but I feel for Mr and Mrs Rooney. That took the gloss off."
Richards added: "People write in the paper we can't train winners at Cheltenham up in the north but you need the equipment. This horse was a dual Grade 1 winner who lost his way a little bit. Thankfully Mr and Mrs Sloan sent him to me."
Officials subsequently inspected the part of the track where Starchitect broke down and found there to be no problem with the racing surface.
Members can read the latest exclusive interviews, news analysis and comment available from 6pm daily on racingpost.com