By Simon Jackson
Hundreds of people have posted tributes on Coolmore’s Facebook page to St Nicholas Abbey, who died on Tuesday after a long battle with injury and illness.
The Aidan O’Brien-trained seven-year-old won almost £5million in a glittering career; his nine victories included three Coronation Cups and a Breeder’s Cup Turf, before suffering a career-ending leg injury.
He had appeared to be recovering well after undergoing extensive surgery and then suffering a bout of colic, but had to be humanely put down after suffering another bout of colic this week.
Amongst those to pay tribute is French trainer Corine Barande-Barbe, who prepared Cirrus Des Aigles to win the Qipco Champion Stakes at the inaugural Champions Day meeting at Ascot in 2011. She said on Coolmore’s Facebook page: “St Nick! RIP, you are a Champion and nobody will forget you… Please, enjoy galloping in horses paradise … We all will see you there, one day …”
Other posts included one who praised not only the horse, but also owners Coolmore: “Can I just say a huge thanks to Coolmore in this difficult time for being great ambassador of the sport of kings for showing the kind and caring face of racing that so many non-race goers get to see.
“You have always been honest and upfront regarding SNA and given us all unprecedented access on his road to recovery. I am only devastated that he couldn’t get through it, there is no braver horse with no bigger heart. RIP St Nicholas Abbey you will no longer be in pain now.” (Karen Russell)
Another, from a fan in Canada read: Many of us have been lighting candles for St. Nic every day since his first surgery. As I guess you know, he was loved around the world.” (Abigail Anderson, Montreal, Canada).
Trainer’s son Joseph O’Brien rode St Nicholas Abbey more than any other rider and was understandably dismayed at news of the death, which was announced in a statement by Coolmore on Tuesday.
“In his last season, he was so much better than he had ever been. He was so relaxed. He loved his racing and he loved his work,” the jockey said.
“It is sad to see him go that way, we would all have liked to have seen him go to stud. He has given us all here at Ballydoyle some great days.”