The popular grey steeplechaser Smad Place, who triumphed in the 2015 Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury, has been retired at the age of 11.

The French-bred son of Smadoun has picked up a suspensory ligament injury prompting his trainer Alan King and owners Trish and Peter Andrew to call time on his brilliant career. He will return to his owners for his retirement.

The gelding captured the heart of many a racing fan thanks to his bold jumping and front-running enthusiasm. His success on the racecourse saw him amass winnings of just under of £500,000.

He won the 2015 Hennessy by an impressive 12 lengths and contested the Cheltenham Festival every year between 2011 until 2017 — finishing third in the Stayers’ Hurdle in 2012 and also in 2013, before taking the runner-up spot in the RSA Chase the following year.

“Smad Place has damaged his right-fore suspensory ligament and, while it is not too serious, this was always going to be his last season and with it being enough to stop we have decided to call it a day. It could have been worse — it could have happened earlier in his career,” said Alan, who is based at Barbury Castle in Wiltshire.

“Barbury won’t be the same without him. This year will be the first time that he hasn’t gone to Cheltenham for eight years.”

The trainer added: “He has been a wonderful horse for us and there are so many magnificent memories. The Hennessy has to be top of the pile. It’s one of the iconic races of the season and run at our local course — to win it was very exciting.”

Smad Place came over from France as a three-year-old in 2010 and joined Alan’s yard. He won three times over hurdles before establishing himself as a high-class chaser.

He had three attempts at the Gold Cup, with his best result coming in 2016 when he finished sixth.

His most recent victory came in the Old Roan Chase at Aintree in October under his regular jockey Wayne Hutchinson — he was also ridden by “Choc” Thornton in the early days before the jockey’s retirement.

Wayne paid tribute to the special grey gelding on social media, tweeting: “Happy retirement to my mate Smad. You had a great innings and did everyone associated with you very proud.”

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