Flat racehorse St Nicholas Abbey, who won the Coronation Cup three times, is in intensive care after suffering a career-ending leg fracture.

The six-year-old damaged a pastern during a routine gallop at Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien’s Ballydoyle base on Tuesday (23 July).

He was operated on yesterday (Wednesday 24 July), in the hope that he can be saved for a future career at stud.

A statement from Coolmore today (Thursday 25 July) read: “After a lengthy surgery to fuse the pastern, St Nicholas Abbey is recuperating in intensive care at John Halley’s Fethard Equine Hospital.

“St Nicholas Abbey will remain in intensive care for some time and has many bridges to cross before he is considered out of danger.

“This morning he is well and comfortable and back enjoying his hay. We are lucky he is so fit and has a marvellous attitude and temperament which will be vital for his long recovery.”

The son of Montjeu had been favourite for this weekend’s King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot.

Owned by Coolmore, he won nearly £5m in prize money and six Group One races — including the Breeders’ Cup Turf (2011), the Dubai Sheema Classic (2013) and the Racing Post Trophy (2009). In June he won the Coronation Cup at Epsom for a record three times (2011, 2012, 2013).