Cracker Jack, the ride of America’s Boyd Martin, has been put down after suffering a serious leg injury during his cross-country round at Pau CCI4*, in the south of France, this afternoon.

The 14-year-old grey was taken to the racetrack equine hospital where his leg was X-rayed. The X-rays showed that he had suffered multiple fractures to a front pastern.

Cracker Jack was galloping back into the main arena, where the final two fences and finish line were positioned, when he suddenly went very lame and Boyd quickly dismounted. Screens were erected around the horse, who was taken away in a horse ambulance.

“Just as we went into the arena he took a horrible step, almost on false ground,” said Boyd on his website. “I heard a crack and knew instantly something was wrong. I pulled up and leapt off within a couple of strides. I knew Crackers was in a bad shape.

“Lucky for us we were right next to the finish line and he was tended to straight away. He was taken to the racetrack hospital just down the road and X-rays showed multiple fractures of the pastern. His owner/breeder Lucy Boynton and myself, with the advice of several veterinarians, decided it was only the humane choice to euthanise Cracker Jack.”

Until that moment, Boyd and Cracker Jack had been enjoying a super round and had jumped clear. The horse, by Aberjack out of Santa’s Slave, finished seventh at Rolex Kentucky CCI4* earlier this year and was 10th at Luhmuhlen in 2016.

“Cracker Jack had a wonderful story: he was bred by Lucy and campaigned up to prelim by her son Colin. Unfortunately Colin passed away and Crackers was sent to me to sell,” said Boyd. “Luckily for me Lucy decided to kick on with the horse and what a ride it’s been. Crackers has taken me all over the world and given Lucy some wonderful memories.

“I can’t tell everyone how sorry I am.”