‘He was looking great to the end’: sad farewell to star stallion who beat Mill Reef’s record

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  • Rock Of Gibraltar, who clocked seven Group One wins on the Flat including the 2,000 Guineas and the Irish 2,000 Guineas in 2002, and who then went on to have a prolific career at stud, has died at the age of 23.

    Racing giants Coolmore announced today (24 October) that the stallion, who won £1,164,804 during his racing career, “passed away last night due to heart failure”.

    The son of Danehill, bred by the late Joe Crowley and Anne-Marie and Aidan O’Brien, was the first horse ever to win seven consecutive Group One races in the northern hemisphere breaking Mill Reef’s 30-year-old record.

    Rock Of Gibraltar was crowned world three-year-old champion in 2002 and he sired a total of 16 Group One or Grade One winners worldwide. These were headed by Criterium International and Eclipse Stakes winner Mount Nelson and Golden Jubilee Stakes and Haydock Sprint Cup winner Society Rock, along with Irish 1,000 Guineas and Garden City Stakes winner Samitar. He was also a notable broodmare sire; his daughters produced two recent 2,000 Guineas winners in Kameko and Poetic Flare.

    Rock Of Gibraltar, who was trained by Aidan O’Brien throughout his career, was stabled at Castlehyde Stud, a branch of Coolmore, at the time of his death.

    Castlehyde manager Paddy Fleming said in a statement: “He was healthy and looking great right up to the end. He was a fantastic racehorse and a very good sire who will be missed by all the staff here.”

    Rock Of Gibraltar retired to Coolmore for a private fee in 2003 and shuttled between Australia, Japan, Chile and Brazil as well as continuing to cover a few mares in Ireland in recent years.

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