Rainbow Quest, the most successful British-based racehorse sire of recent years, has died aged 26.

The son of Blushing Groom, who was still covering at Juddmonte Farms’ Banstead Manor Stud this season — his 21st — died as a result of complications following emergency surgery for colic.

Bought as a yearling by Khalid Abdullah for $950,000, Rainbow Quest was a top-class racehorse, best remembered for winning the 1985 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe as a four-year-old.

He had had the dubious pleasure of running against a vintage crop of three-year-olds, such as El Gran Senor, Darshaan, Sadler’s Wells and Lear Fan, and was Classic-placed without winning until he took the Great Voltigeur Stakes at York. The following year, he won the Coronation Cup at Epsom as well as the Arc.

He sired the Derby winner Quest For Fame in his first crop, as well as the Irish Oaks winner Knight’s Baroness and the Arc winner Saumerez. Over the years he produced many other top-flight horses, among them Spectrum, Millenary and Croco Rouge.

He has become renowned in recent years as a broodmare sire – his daughters have foaled two Derby winners — North Light and Kris Kin — and numerous other Group One winners.