Racing: Dundee's career threatened by fall

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THE SICKENING sight of a great, charging thoroughbred being reduced to a pathetic, limping beast cast a shadow over the second day of the Cheltenham Festival yesterday.

Nick Dundee, widely predicted to become the next great steeplechaser and the hot favourite for the novice chasers' championship, the Royal & SunAlliance Chase, was powering towards victory with all but one of his rivals beaten off when he crashed to the ground at the third last fence.

The immediate prognosis looked poor as the horse was unable to stand on his near-hind leg and it appeared that the limb was broken. Later it transpired that the injury might not be quite as bad as first appeared, although the gelding's racing career, if not his life, remains in the balance.

His jockey, Norman Williamson, who returned to the weighing room in tears, said: "There was a lot of hype about this horse and I was trying to tell everyone that anything can happen in racing."

Nick Dundee's trainer, Eddie O'Grady, said: "It's quite serious as there's a suspicion of a crack at the end of his cannon-bone and fetlock joint. We will await developments but I'm not, as you say, reasonably optimistic."

Tragically, the day saw the first deaths of the meeting. Glazeway was destroyed after smashing his off foreleg before the third-last flight of the Royal & SunAlliance Novices' Hurdle, while Nearly An Eye died instantly when breaking his neck in a fall in the Mildmay of Flete Chase.