‘Incredibly soft and gentle’ Gold Cup winner who became therapy horse dies age 24

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  • Gold Cup winner Papineau, “a champion both on and off the track”, has died aged 24.

    Godolphin’s gelding spent much of his retirement providing equine assisted therapy in hospices and hospitals. He was a finalist for the inaugural Sir Peter O’Sullevan Charitable Trust Retraining of Racehorses (RoR) Community Impact Award, and his achievements were celebrated at the RoR Awards on 31 January.

    Papineau was “in excellent health” until he was very recently diagnosed with heart issues and the decision was made for him to be put down.

    “Papineau was a horse who did even more for others, both within and outside of our industry, in his retirement as he did throughout his career,” said Liam O’Rourke, Godolphin’s director of stud, stallions and breeding.

    “He was much loved and will be much missed.”

    Papineau, a son of Singspiel, was bred by the late Peter Winfield and bought at the Tattersalls December Sale in 2000. He travelled to Ireland and was raised at Blackhall Stud in Co. Kildare, before starting training with André Fabre.

    He joined Saeed bin Suroor in early 2004, winning the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot that summer with Frankie Dettori in the saddle.

    “Papineau was a pleasure to train, and his Gold Cup win at Ascot was a very special day indeed. His achievements after his racing career are something that the whole team should be incredibly proud of,” said Saeed.

    In 2005, Papineau was retired from racing and retrained, enjoying dressage, showing and life as a family hack. He also spent time as a nanny at Godolphin’s pre-training facility and has taken part in many parades.

    He stepped back from his second career for a quieter life at Woodditton Stud, where he was looked after by Geraldine Jones and her daughter Megan. But his carers found he was not quite ready to fully retire, so Papineau found a new purpose in equine-assisted therapy, visiting Newmarket Hospital and East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices. It was for this work that he was recognised as a finalist in the RoR community impact award.

    In a video shown on the awards evening at The Jockey Club Rooms in Newmarket, Geraldine described him as “incredibly soft and gentle”.

    “He just knows – if you’re having a bad day, he is always there to listen,” she said.

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