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Cheltenham Festival horse Sir Erec dies after horror leg break overshadows Gold Cup day

Sir Erec has been put down after breaking its leg at Cheltenham Festival.

The horse, trained by Joseph Patrick O’Brien, was being ridden by Mark Walsh in the Triumph Hurdle when it pulled up after going over a fence.

Sir Erec, who was the out-right favourite to win the race, suffered fatal injuries as a result and was put down.

Speaking on ITV Racing, former champion jockey Sir AP McCoy said: "I’m absolutely heartbroken for Sir Erec. That is the toughest thing about this sport."

Pentland Hills went on to win the 1.30pm Grade 1 contest with trainer Nicky Henderson.

Sir Erec has been put down after breaking its leg

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Paying tribute to Sir Erec, Henderson said: "Sir Erec was a gorgeous horse, he was just stunning.

"That goes and happens and your heart goes out to them, as JP (McManus, owner) is a good mate and is one of the great men of National Hunt racing."

Nico de Boinville, who was riding Pentland Hills, also paid tribute to Sir Erec.

Sir Erec pulled up after clearing a fence

He said: "My thoughts are with those involved with Sir Erec. You never like to win a race when that has happened but it is the reality of the sport.

"But take nothing away from my horse. He made a bad error at the first where he over-jumped it and recovered well after that."

Director of Equine Health and Welfare David Sykes spoke extensively about the fatal injury Sir Erec sustained while providing coverage on ITV.

Sir Erec with Mark Walsh back at Leopardstown Racecourse

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He claimed that the horse losing it’s shoe before the start of the race, and having to have it replaced, had no impact on its subsequent fatal injury.

He said: "It’s one of those catastrophic injuries that occur unexpectedly."

Animal Aid’s Horse Racing Consultant, Dene Stansall, meanwhile added: "Sir Erec should have been withdrawn before the start of the race, having lost a shoe on the way to the start.

Trainer Joseph O’Brien with Walsh and Sir Erec

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"Clearly there was something wrong. Even after the shoeing there was no time to assess the horse as being fit to race and we believe that as a consequence he has lost his life.

"If Jockey Club Racecourses – the owners of Cheltenham – and the British Horseracing Authority do not act promptly with purpose and suspend racing after these horse deaths then there will be increasing public and political pressure to end racing at Cheltenham altogether.

"In addition to this, further pressure is building to remove the British Horseracing Authority from their role as welfare regulator for race horses."

Pentland Hills won the Triumph Hurdle

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Sir Erec is the second horse to be put down at Cheltenham Festival after National Hunt Challenge Cup favourite Ballyward fell on the first day.

Ballyward fell at the 17th of 25 fences in the hands of ttrainer Willie Mullins’ son, Patrick, and had to be euthanized.

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