George Washington, last year’s champion miler, was put down after breaking a leg at the Breeders’ Cup in New Jersey on Saturday (27 October, ’07).

He shattered his foreleg when being eased down by jockey Mick Kinane, after having no chance in a rain-sodden Classic.

His trainer Aidan O’Brien recognised how rare it is to find a horse of his calibre, hailing the winner of more than £800,000 as “unbelievably talented”, despite his capricious temperament.

The Danehill colt won six out of his 14 races, four of them at Group 1 level. His five-timer last season culminated in the 2000 Guineas, where his scintillating turn-of-foot sealed the Newmarket Classic. He then went on to beat the older generation in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes.

He retired at the end of last season, after a valiant but unprofitable tilt at the 2006 Breeders Cup Classic. However, he returned to training earlier this year having proved infertile at stud. He continued to be campaigned at the highest level, running creditably without winning.

George Washington was known for his exuberant character, and lightning acceleration — attracting the nickname “Gorgeous George”. Jockeys Mick Kinane and Kieran Fallon have reported him as the best they had ridden, following victories in the Phoenix and Queen Elizabeth II Stakes.