A sad announcement has come from the Cheltenham Festival after a horse named Highland Hunter died just days after leading a funeral procession for amateur jockey Keagan Kirkby.

Highland Hunter, who was 11 years old, had celebrated an emotional win at Newbury 10 days before under the guidance of jockey Paddy Brennan. He was a favourite of Kirkby, whose tragic death occurred after his horse collided with a fence, catapulting him off and landing on top of him during a point-to-point race at Charing in February.

During Kirkby's farewell service on March 5, Highland Hunter led the way through the village of Ditcheat where Kirkby used to work for Paul Nicholls, a renowned trainer with 14 champion titles to his name.

In response to the shock, the horse's trainer, Fergal O'Brien shared on Twitter: "Not sure we'll be tweeting again today after this. Absolutely devastated. Thanks for the messages we're already receiving and those to come."

The unfortunate event happened when Highland Hunter took a severe fall in the Ultima Handicap Chase. Speaking about the incident, ITV Racing presenter Ed Chamberlin said, "I'm afraid it's the news we feared.", reports the Mirror.

He continued: "The racecourse have been in touch to say 'Highland Hunter was immediately attended to by expert veterinary professionals during the third race, the Ultima Handicap, but sadly sustained a fatal injury'. They say 'our heartfelt condolences are with connections' and we echo that."

Despite the tragic news, the race day continued with Kim Bailey's horse, Chianti Classico, winning the Ultima Handicap Chase with David Bass.

Bass expressed his joy, saying: "It meant a lot, it's actually quite a good feeling to win here. It's a privilege to ride these horses. It's hard to win here though 2020 was the last time and it's been too long."