Connections of Doncaster winner Rock On Ruby were quick to commiserate those linked with Darlan after Nicky Henderson's Christmas Hurdle hero suffered a fatal fall at the final flight in the 32Red Hurdle.
Darlan was travelling powerfully behind Rock On Ruby on the approach to the last and looked the most likely winner but he clipped the top of the obstacle and crashed out.
Rock On Ruby, ridden by Noel Fehily, went on to beat Countrywide Flame by three lengths, but the winning trainer Harry Fry said: "In terms of the race, we didn't want a scenario like that and commiserations to all of Nicky's team and AP (McCoy) and JP (McManus)."
"As far as Ruby is concerned, we've come and he's done the job. He's had a good race and that will bring him on again for the day. He's jumped well enough, not as sharp as he can be, but there's improvement there.
"We can take him home and put the finishing touches on him.
"He's a really tough horse. He joined Countrywide Flame turning into the straight and it's a long way home, but he'll keep galloping and keep finding all day for us.
"The whole season has been built around Cheltenham and hopefully we can go there full of confidence."
Fehily said: "He's done everything we wanted him to do and he'll definitely come on for it. He had a good blow from the back of the last.
"It's obviously disappointing to see the other horse fall like that, but we've been in front plenty long enough and he's idling up the straight.
"He's where we want him going to Cheltenham now. His best form is around Cheltenham and he goes there now with confidence up. If he's good enough on the day, he'll be bang there again."
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