The Rock Is Dead

Recordbreaker with 7 Gr1's on the trot

Rock Of Gibraltar, the world champion miler who would make even bigger global headlines during the start of his stud career, died at the age of 23 due to heart failure on Sunday night.

The Racing Post reports that the son of Danehill, who was bred by Joe Crowley, Anne-Marie and Aidan O’Brien, wrote his name into the history books when becoming the first horse to win seven consecutive Group 1’s in the northern hemisphere, breaking Mill Reef’s 30-year record.

Rock Of Gibraltar – 1999 to 2022 (Pic – Coolmore)

He won at the Curragh on his first start at two for O’Brien and concluded that season with successes in the Grand Criterium and Dewhurst, having also landed the Gimcrack and Railway Stakes – the latter from stablemate Hawk Wing.

As a three-year-old he added the 2,000 Guineas, Irish 2,000 Guineas, St James’s Palace Stakes, Sussex Stakes and Prix du Moulin to his CV.

He rounded his career off with a second in the Breeders’ Cup Mile, retiring to Coolmore for a private fee in 2003 and would shuttle to Australia, Japan, Chile and Brazil as well as continuing to cover small books at home in recent years.

While Rock Of Gibraltar was famed for his prodigious racecourse talent, he was to end up being part of an infamous dispute between John Magnier and Sir Alex Ferguson.

The then Manchester United manager had been given a half-share in the colt, who first appeared in his red colours winning the Gimcrack. Ferguson believed he had ownership rights to Rock Of Gibraltar’s stallion career and initiated legal action with Magnier and Coolmore.

With Magnier and his associate JP McManus being major shareholders in the club, the argument took on a public dimension before reaching what Ferguson described as “an amicable settlement” in early 2004.

Rock Of Gibraltar has sired 256 stakes performers to date, including 77 worldwide Group winners and 16 at the highest level.

They included Eclipse and Criterium International winner Mount Nelson, Golden Jubilee Stakes and Haydock Sprint Cup winner Society Rock plus Irish 1,000 Guineas and Garden City Stakes heroine Samitar and Hong Kong Cup scorer Eagle Mountain. He had been making a name as a broodmare sire in the 2020 and 2021 Guineas winners in Kameko and Poetic Flare.

Coolmore’s Castlehyde Stud manager Paddy Fleming said: “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.”

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