Rock On win marred by Darlan fatality


Noel Fehily gave the winner a grateful pat down the shoulder, but his sombre expression already disclosed some sense of the disaster that would gouge all joy from their success. Moments earlier, he had sent Rock On Ruby over the last flight with Tony McCoy and Darlan breathing down their necks. Now one of the sport's rising stars lay dead on the turf, his dignity being hastily preserved from horrified spectators by the erection of screens. McCoy was unharmed in the fall, but even this iron man was too upset to ride again yesterday. A race that had introduced incongruous lustre to a Monday at Doncaster instead renewed the bleakest challenge faced by those who tend and cherish any horse bred and raised for competition.

The margin between fulfilment and despair had been appallingly abrupt. Anxious to preserve Darlan from a buffeting headwind, McCoy had kept his mount in Rock On Ruby's slipstream until the final obstacle in the 32Red Hurdle. Though quietly squeezed along, Darlan still looked full of energy and seemed on the brink of announcing himself unequivocally as the leading British rival to Hurricane Fly in the Stan James Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham, five weeks today. After all, he was about to run down the defending champion. In a race laid on only because other Cheltenham trials had been lost to the weather, connections must have felt everything was working out perfectly.

And then Darlan took one of those falls that would not permit them even a split second of hope. He stepped at the hurdle and crashed on to his neck. The anguish of Nicky Henderson, his trainer, was transparent. "Some game, isn't it?" he said. "Why is it always the good ones?"

Even in such a powerful stable, Darlan will leave a bitter void for those who cared for him in all weathers; who had hoped that the fall he took a year ago, when again on the point of a breakthrough success at Newbury, would prove the limit of the distress he might ever cause them.

But some sympathy should also be reserved for Harry Fry, forced to place one of the most rewarding moments of his young career into harrowing perspective. Having supervised Rock On Ruby as an anonymous lieutenant to Paul Nicholls last year, this time round he is skilfully building the horse back to peak form in his own name.

But he made a suitable priority of commiserating with the connections of Darlan before acknowledging satisfaction with the way Rock On Ruby had progressed from his comeback run – not least because Fehily had felt his mount to be idling in front. "He'll come on again for today," Fry said. "We can take him home and put the finishing touches on him. He's a really tough horse. He joined Countrywide Flame turning in, and it's a long way home, but he'll keep galloping and keep finding all day. The whole season has been built around Cheltenham and we can go there full of confidence."

Countrywide Flame, also a Festival winner last year, set a good pace and rallied well to go down by three lengths. John Quinn, his trainer, feels he can return to spring ground at Cheltenham with "a sporting each-way chance".

Those who can already find it in their hearts to review the revised odds will find that Hurricane Fly is now as short as 13-8 with Stan James, followed by Grandouet 5-1, Zarkandar 6-1 and Rock On Ruby 7-1.

Turf Account

Chris McGrath's Nap: Riskier (4.20 Sedgefield)

Energetic type will relish this shorter trip after shaping well on his return.

Next best: Beckhani (3.00 Market Rasen)

Where the Money's Going: Arabella Boy is 6-1 from 8-1 with Hills for the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase at Cheltenham.

Arts and Entertainment
Banksy's 'The Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' in Bristol
art'Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' followed hoax reports artist had been arrested and unveiled
Pistorius leaves Pretoria High Court to be taken to prison

Stephanie first after her public appearance as a woman at Rad Fest 2014

Life and Style

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
James Blunt's debut album Back to Bedlam shot him to fame in 2004

Singer says the track was 'force-fed down people's throats'


Endangered species spotted in a creek in the Qinling mountains

Life and Style

Company says data is only collected under 'temporary' identities that are discarded every 15 minutes

peopleJust weeks after he created dress for Alamuddin-Clooney wedding
Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

Arts and Entertainment
George Lucas poses with a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010

George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios

football West Brom vs Man Utd match report: Blind grabs point, but away form a problem for Van Gaal
Life and Style

Some experiencing postnatal depression don't realise there is a problem. What can be done?

Arts and Entertainment
Gotham is coming to UK shores this autumn
tvGotham, episode 2, review
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Pensions Administrator

£23000 - £26000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...


£60 - £70 per day: Randstad Education Preston: The Job:* The Tutor will prepar...

Qualified Teaching Assistant Jobs in Blackpool

Negotiable: Randstad Education Preston: Qualified Teaching Assistant Jobs in B...

*****English/Maths Teacher*****

£110 - £150 per day: Randstad Education Preston: English/Maths Teacher require...

Day In a Page

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album