A devastated horse trainer is coming to terms with the death of "a beautiful horse" after a serious crash on the New England Highway in the early hours of Tuesday.
Todd Howlett was taking five horses for trackwork when his truck was involved in a three-vehicle collision at Belford just after 5am.
One of the horses - a two-year-old colt which was an offspring of the champion racehorse Lonhro - died at the scene.
Four others were being monitored at the Todd Howlett Racing stables on Tuesday.
One of the horses involved in the crash - Toto - was on his way to have a final gallop before the Country Championships at Tamworth this Sunday.
Mr Howlett escaped serious injury but told Australian Community Mediahe was "sore and probably a bit shaken up".
He said the death of Lohnie's Me Dad - as the two-year-old colt had been known - was "hard on all the staff".
"It's been pretty awful," Mr Howlett said.
"He was only a baby, so he hadn't done a lot yet but I really did like him - he was a beautiful horse. We were just looking forward to his future.
"Everybody is really upset. All the staff love the horses. We lost a really nice horse.
"A couple of other horses are a bit banged around. We're just going to have to give them a few days to see where we go."
Toto and another horse due to race at Tamworth this weekend are not expected to take to the track as planned.
Paramedics, police, firefighters, the Westpac Rescue Helicopter and Cessnock District Rescue Squad were called to the scene of the crash on Tuesday morning.
A man in one of the other vehicles suffered serious leg injuries and was taken to John Hunter Hospital in a stable condition.
Mr Howlett said he remembered driving the truck and being hit from behind before losing control of the vehicle and going into a spin.
"The truck tipped over and I got out of the truck pretty quick," he said.
"I thought that was it for me.
"I didn't think I was coming out."
A statement on the Todd Howlett Racing Facebook page on Tuesday described the crash as "horrific".
"We would like to thank the emergency services, by standers and vet for their quick assistance this morning," the statement said.
"Thank you for all your calls and messages of concern, lastly thank you to our staff for all their assistance this morning under such circumstances.
"We are all in a state of shock and coming to terms with what has happened this morning."