Go Native killed on gallops
Leading Champion Hurdle contender Go Native sustained fatal injuries when breaking his leg in a routine canter in front of trainer Noel Meade on Friday morning.
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Sent off favourite for the 2010 Champion Hurdle, Go Native sustained an injury in that race which forced him off the track for 18 months but was nursed back to health by his syndicate of owners and returned with a win on the Flat at Galway last month.
He was in the process of giving Hurricane Fly a scare when falling at the final flight in Punchestown's Morgiana Hurdle last Sunday, leaving connections to hope that he might again be on course for major honours later this season.
"We're all in a state of shock at the moment," said Meade.
"He was just doing a very steady canter. I was stood about 100 yards away from him and all of a sudden I heard this almighty crack and he'd somehow broken his leg above the hock.
"I don't know why these things happen. He was the first one to come up the straight gallop after it had been harrowed.
"We are all completely devastated. It's cruel blow for his owners and everyone in the yard."
Meade admitted there was a possibility the fall in the Morgiana had weakened the leg, despite the horse having been examined since.
"You have to question whether he did something in the fall, but although he's not done any fast work, he's been hacking all week and has seemed fine," Meade went on.
"We had the physio check him out thoroughly earlier in the week and she was happy that he was perfect. We'll never know now.
"He had all that time off and came back as good as he ever was and for this to happen is just incredible.
"You have to be a hard man in a game like this, I tell you. I know there are lots of other businesses where you get knocks, but there can't be many harder games than this."
Meade's inmate won nine races from 18 starts under Rules, including the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton and the Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle three years ago.
But his finest hour came a season earlier when he claimed the Supreme Novices' Hurdle by a neck at the 2009 Cheltenham Festival.