12:00pm Thursday 15th March 2012
By Steve Carroll
NORTH Yorkshire trainer Brian Ellison was “devastated” after Abergavenny had to be put down following a fall in the Coral Cup at the Cheltenham Festival.
The five-year-old is believed to have suffered a broken elbow after crashing out at the third flight of hurdles yesterday.
The trainer’s Facebook page stated: “Very sad news. Abergavenny had to be put down after falling at Cheltenham today. We are devastated.”
Ridden by Felix de Giles, Abergavenny had not jumped fluently in the early stages of the two-mile five-furlong contest before his fall.
The horse was owned by professional gambler Kristian Strangeway from York, along with Cheltenham-based Dan Gilbert.
Strangeway had feared the worst when protective screens went up after the fall.
Though he expressed hope that Abergavenny would pull through when the hurdler managed to walk into a horse-box before being taken for X-rays at a nearby veterinary college, he could not be saved and the decision was taken to put him down.
Abergavenny’s death brought the number of fatalities over the first two days of the Festival to five as Featherbed Lane also broke a leg in the same race.
Garde Champetre and Scotsirish died in separate incidents during Tuesday’s Cross Country Chase, while Educated Evans broke a leg in a novice handicap that afternoon – the first day of the Festival.
Abergavenny had begun his racing career with Middleham trainer Mark Johnston and had won one race on the Flat.
He had made a very promising start over hurdles with Ellison, winning three of his six races, and finishing a close third in the valuable Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham back in November.
On the race, eventually won by the Donald McCain-trained Son of Flicka, Strangeway said: “Most winners at Cheltenham tend to get a nice trip around the inside, especially over hurdles, so we just said (to jockey Felix de Giles) skirt round and hope for the best.
“I don’t think he jumped the first two hurdles very well and he fell at the third.”
Earlier, Ellison’s Red Inca had been balloted out of the Coral Cup, while Strangeway confirmed star hurdler Marsh Warbler would not run at the Festival because of the firm ground.
Royal Bonsai, trained by Norton’s John Quinn, faded to finish 14th in the Fred Winter Juvenile Hurdle and Ifandbutwhynot, saddled by Nawton-based David O’Meara, failed to feature in the closing Weatherbys Champion Bumper.
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