• Horse Racing

St Nicholas Abbey dies after battle with illness

ESPN staff
January 14, 2014
Joseph O'Brien rode St Nicholas Abbey for the horse's last 12 races © Getty Images

Three-time Coronation Cup winner St Nicolas Abbey has died following a six-month battle against injury and illness.

Owners Coolmore released a statement on Tuesday announcing the seven-year-old, who amassed over £5 million in prize money and was considered one of the most successful racehorses in recent years, had been put down on "humane grounds" following a bout of inoperable colic.

Trained by Aidan O'Brien, St Nicholas Abbey won six Group One races including three Coronation Cups at Epsom as well as the 2011 Breeders' Cup at Churchill Downs in the United States.

St Nicholas Abbey suffered a career-ending leg fracture at O'Brien's Ballydoyle Tipperary stables in July last year. The previous March, the horse won the Dubai Sheema Classic at Meydan during the Dubai World Cup meet.

"Regretfully St Nicholas Abbey has lost his brave battle after suffering a colic this morning," Coolmore announced. "Surgery revealed a severe strangulating colon torsion that was unviable and he had to be euthanised on humane grounds.

"This is extremely unfortunate as St Nicholas Abbey had been in terrific form, the laminitis was resolving very well and the fracture had healed better than expected. Coolmore would like to thank the surgeons, the international experts and all the staff at Fethard Equine Hospital who gave him such excellent care 24-7.

"We would also like to thank the multitude of well-wishers for all the cards and messages of support for St Nicholas Abbey. He will be buried in the graveyard here at Coolmore."

Jockey Joseph O'Brien, son of Aidan, became the youngest ever rider to win Breeders' Cup when on board St Nicholas Abbey in 2011. O'Brien Jr rode the horse for its last 12 races and revealed his sadness over the news.

"He was a horse I'll never forget. He gave us at Ballydoyle some great days and over a mile and a half, on good ground, he would have given any horse in the world a run for their money," O'Brien told the Racing Post.

"His win in Dubai last year was possibly his best performance and he was probably better than ever last year. But from my point of view winning on him at the Breeders' Cup [in 2011] was very special. It was my first big win on the world stage and my first big win outside Ireland. What happened to him was very sad. Everyone would have liked to see him stand at stud."

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