Popular flat horse Persian Punch, who was featured among Horse & Hound Online’s top horses of 2003, has collapsed and died at Ascot racecourse while running in the Group Three Bovis Homes Sagaro Stakes.
The popular 11-year-old was pulled up by his jockey, Martin Dwyer, with around a furlong of the two-mile race left to run. He collapsed and died on home straight despite the best efforts of the course’s vets.
Nick Smith of Ascot racecourse told HHO: “I was in the winners enclosure when I heard that Persian Punch had collapsed on the home straight. When I arrived at the horse’s side he was being attended by the vets, who gave him adrenalin and oxygen but were unable to prevent this terrible tragedy.”
It is thought that Persian Punch suffered a heart attack in the closing stages of the race, after making the running in his trademark style.
“No-one could have foreseen this incident,” continues Smith. “To lose one of the most popular horses in training has obviously cast a shadow over the rest of today’s racing.”
Owned by Jeff Smith, Persian Punch won 20 races during his long 63-race career. He broke the £1m winnings barrier last year, when he won four races for his trainer David Elmsworth, including three by a short head.
Persian Punch’s brave front running style made him a favourite with the racing public.
Rod Fabricius, managing director and clerk of the course at Goodwood Racecourse, where Persian Punch twice won the Goodwood Cup, paid tribute to the impressive stayer: “Persian Punch was one of the most popular horses of recent times. His two wins in the Goodwood Cup (2001 and 2003) at the Glorious Goodwood Festival Meeting encompassed all that Persian Punch was about – class and determination.
“His win last year was particularly memorable and not since Double Trigger’s three wins in the same race have the crowd at Goodwood been so vocal in their appreciation of a supreme equine athlete.”