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Tragedy at Leopardstown as Cheltenham champion Nichols Canyon suffers fatal fall

Willie Mullins’ seven-year-old won eight Grade 1 titles.

Nichols Canyon: Ruby Walsh celebrates big Cheltenham win.
Nichols Canyon: Ruby Walsh celebrates big Cheltenham win.
Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

NICHOLS CANYON, WINNER of the Cheltenham Stayers’ Hurdle this year and the only horse to beat the great Faugheen to date, suffered a fatal fall at Leopardstown on Thursday.

The third day of the Christmas Festival was overshadowed as Willie Mullins’ star fell in the Squared Financial Christmas Hurdle, and had to be put down shortly afterwards.

Apple’s Jade won the Grade 1 three-miler for Davy Russell and Gordon Elliot, beating Jessica Harrington’s Supasundae by a half-length.

But the celebrations were somewhat muted following the tragic accident in front of the stands on the first circuit.

Nichols Canyon first burst onto the scene for Willie Mullins in early 2015, winning the Deloitte Novice hurdle before finishing a game third in the Neptune at Cheltenham.

It was a mark of things to come as he went on to win more than a remarkable eight Grade 1 titles for owners Andrea and Graham Wylie.

His finest hour came at Cheltenham earlier this year when, sent off the 10/1 outsider, he powered up the hill to win the Stayers’ Hurdle ahead of Lil Rockerfeller.

He remains, to date, the only horse to get the better of Faugheen, beating his stablemate by half a length when the two met in Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown in November 2015.

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