£120,000 Caspian Caviar Gold Cup Handicap Chase (Grade 3) 2m 4f 166y
The feature handicap of the day was the £120,000 Caspian Caviar Gold Cup, which went to northern raider Guitar Pete (Nicky Richards/Ryan Day (3), 10st 2lb, 9/1). It was a first success in the contest for Cumbria-based trainer Nicky Richards, although his late father Gordon won the prestigious contest three times with Titus Oates (1969), Clever Folly (1989) and Addington Boy (1996).
Guitar Pete (left) and Clan Des Obeaux upsides in the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup
Starchitect (David Pipe/Tom Scudamore, 11st 5lb, 13/2) looked to have the race in bag entering the home straight but tragically broke down approaching the second last, suffering a fatal leg injury.
This left the race wide open and Guitar Pete took the lead after the last, going on to score by two and three-quarter lengths from 3/1 favourite Clan Des Obeaux (Paul Nicholls/Harry Cobden, 11st 12lb) with King's Odyssey (Evan Williams/Adam Wedge, 10st 11lb, 9/1) another five lengths away in third.
Harry Haynes, assistant trainer to Nicky Richards, said: "We were disappointed when Guitar Pete was nearly brought down at the first in the BetVictor Gold Cup. Obviously, we couldn't have foreseen what would happen to Starchitect today, so it's very sad and condolences go to all connected.
"Guitar Pete did well to stand up last time out and we gave him a bit of time afterwards. It was always the plan to come back here and try and win a big race.
"There were a few more runners in the BetVictor Gold Cup and it was a bit a cavalry charge down to the first. It was always the plan today to go with them over the first couple and then tuck in. He ended up down on the inside and had a lovely run round.
"He jumped very well - he maybe got a bit close to the third last but, apart from that, he was foot perfect.
"We will see how he comes out of this race before deciding where to go next. He has been with us for getting on a year now and has had a few runs. If he comes back in good form, we will probably look for something in the middle or end of January.
Ryan Day, a 3lb claimer celebrating his 10th winner of the season, said: "I had seen Tom getting away on Starchitect and thought I might run well and get close to him. It looked as if he broke a hind leg and all I can do is say condolences to Mr and Mrs Rooney and everyone connected.
"Guitar Pete has always been a high-class horse. He won a G1 as a juvenile and maybe lost his way a bit. He just takes a little bit of kidding along - he hit a flat spot in the middle part of the race the day he won at Wetherby and then came there travelling turning in.
"They have gone a good gallop today and things have started to fall apart in front of me. I kept squeezing him through the flat spots and he has seen it out well in the end.
"We did think that he would run a good race in the BetVictor Gold Cup but we had no chance after the first fence. All we could do was take it on the chin and try again - it has paid off.
"We will have to speak to Nicky and the owners to see where we go from here but I am very grateful to them for letting me ride him. He is a good horse and I am grateful for the opportunity on a big day like this.
"You need days like this to keep you moving forward. I have had a good run lately but a day like this will help move things along."
David Pipe said of Starchitect: "Starchitect was cruising, running the race of his life, when suddenly he lost his action and the rest is history, I'm afraid. Our thoughts are with Paul and Clare Rooney (owners of Starchietect), who love all their horses.
"He was a real character and no horse deserves that, especially him because he has run in all the big races at the Festivals over hurdles and fences. He was one of our best horses and there was more to come.
"It can happen anywhere - out in the field, on the racecourse, training back at home - and I'm afraid you get freak accidents. We never want it to happen but it does occasionally."