The racing fraternity is today mourning the loss of a second high-profile horse in consecutive weekends.
The flashy grey Detroit City ruptured a heart valve at the second fence in the Coral Ascot Hurdle on Saturday, falling to his death in the race won by Hardy Eustace.
The Phillip Hobbs-trained five-year old was trying to make a comeback after some disappointing results at the end of last season. He had since been treated for several ailments including stomach ulcers, wind problems and back trouble.
Richard Johnson felt his back end disappear as Detroit City jumped the hurdle, and held his head down to prevent him getting up on the presumption that he had broken a leg.
Owner Terry Warner said his only solace was that: “It was very quick so he wouldn’t have suffered and he wouldn’t have known anything about it.”
Terry, who also owned the grey Champion Hurdle winner Rooster Booster, bought the gelding out of Jeremy Noseda’s Newmarket yard in a private deal in 2005.
“For the two years we owned him he’d been a wonderful horse winning eight races in succession — he’s been a little star,” he said.
Detroit City’s victories have included the 2006 Triumph Hurdle, the Greatwood Handicap Hurdle, the boylesport.com Hurdle and the Cesarewitch on the flat.
Jockey Richard Johnson paid tribute to the horse as: “probably the best hurdler I’ve ever ridden.”
Detroit City’s untimely death meant race-goers had to endure the second bad loss in a week after Granit Jack died in the Paddy Power Gold Cup.