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The racing world is in shock following the sad news that Best Mate collapsed and died after taking part in the William Hill Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter earlier today.

The triple Gold Cup winner was having his first run following an enforced break earlier this year, after breaking a blood vessel during his final preparations for a fourth consecutive Gold Cup attempt in the spring.

His jockey Paul Carberry appeared to have realised something was wrong during the later part of the race and pulled the 10-year-old chaser up in the home straight, where he collapsed and died. It is suspected that Best Mate suffered a heart attack.

Best Mate’s trainer Henrietta Knight told BBC news: “I was on the track where he came down and I was the first one there. I knew immediately he had died.”

Best Mate sealed his place in racing history in 2004 when he joined the elite group of horses to have won three Cheltenham Gold Cups. The previous horse to achieve this illustrious treble was the legendary Arkle.

The big tough Irish-bred chaser, owned by Jim Lewis, had never finished outside the first two throughout his career, being beaten to the post on only a handful of occasions.

Previously described by his trainer as “not just one in a million. Best Mate’s one in a several million. He’s a horse in a lifetime”, today Knight said: ” He died doing what he enjoyed doing.”

British Horseracing Board Chairman Martin Broughton, paid tribute to the outstanding chaser, saying: “Best Mate captivated the public with his outstanding Gold Cup treble and the sadness of his death in tragic circumstances will be shared by all racing lovers. His wonderful achievements will be remembered forever.”

  • View HHO’s pictorial tribute to the great chaser >>