'A horse of a lifetime. By God, he wanted to win' – Sherwood on Many Clouds
Remembering the equine heroes we said farewell to in 2017
The death of Many Clouds in January was particularly tragic because he was a popular Grand National-winning champion who embodied the spirit of the jumping game and died moments after an epic triumph.
In the Grade 2 Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham, the ten-year-old was not expected to beat King George winner Thistlecrack. His rival drew upsides in a sustained duel for the lead, but the battle-hardened warrior hit back with his usual courage to prevail by a head.
Sadly, he then collapsed and died of a severe pulmonary haemorrhage, a victim of his own indomitable will to win.
Trainer Oliver Sherwood said: “He was a horse of a lifetime. By God, he wanted to win. He died doing what he loved doing – racing and jumping.”
Many Clouds, owned by Trevor Hemmings and ridden in all of his races by Leighton Aspell, won the Grand National in 2015 by defying more weight (11st 9lb) in the race than any other winner since Red Rum. He was also the only Hennessy winner to win the National.
Based on the form of his last race, Many Clouds was surprisingly rated the champion staying chaser in the official Anglo-Irish Jumps Classifications in May, even though he had never won a Grade 1.
The Bay Oak also died minutes after passing the post in triumph – in his case in the West Wales National at Ffos Las in April.
At Cheltenham last month, Starchitect was clear with the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup at his mercy when suddenly pulled up with a fatal leg injury before the second-last.
Nichols Canyon, who numbered the Stayers' Hurdle in March among eight Grade 1 victories, took a fatal fall at Leopardstown last week, and Reve De Sivola, who scored six Grade 1 wins including three in the Long Walk Hurdle, died at Kelso in March.
Permian won the Dante and King Edward VII Stakes but was put down with a broken leg after finishing last in the Secretariat Stakes in Chicago in August. Rapper Dragon won the Hong Kong Derby in March but died in the Champions Mile in May.
Four horses suffered fatal injuries at the Cheltenham Festival, notably bet365 Gold Cup winner Hadrian's Approach in the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Chase.
Five horses died at Auteuil on Easter Monday including two in France's richest handicap chase, the Prix du President de la Republique.
Among the consequences of the devastating wildfires that ravaged southern California last month were the deaths of more than 40 thoroughbreds at San Luis Rey Training Center.
The best of the departed jumpers were Imperial Commander, Well Chief and Collier Bay.
Imperial Commander won the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2010. The race seemed to simply concern stablemates Kauto Star and Denman, who had won the three previous renewals between them, but the Nigel Twiston-Davies star upset expectations when beating Denman by seven lengths.
Well Chief beat subsequent Gold Cup winner Kicking King in the Arkle Chase in 2004 and was superior to many winners of the Queen Mother Champion Chase, but the German-bred Pipe representative had the misfortune to come up against great champions when second to Moscow Flyer in 2005 and Master Minded in 2009.
Collier Bay upset reigning champion Alderbrook in the 1996 Champion Hurdle for trainer Jim Old and substitute jockey Graham Bradley, and he also won the Imperial Cup and Irish Champion Hurdle.
We said farewell to six Grand National winners in seven months, as Rough Quest, Red Marauder and Lord Gyllene in late 2016 were followed by Many Clouds, Amberleigh House and Papillon.
At the age of 12, Amberleigh House gave Ginger McCain a fourth victory in the big race in 2004, adding to Red Rum's three. He had been third to Monty's Pass the previous year and ran in the race five times in all.
Papillon triumphed for the Walsh family in 2000 and was last of four finishers after being remounted behind Red Marauder 12 months later.
The US Hall of Fame lost three members in 2017 – Holy Bull, Lure and Inside Information.
Holy Bull, who was euthanised in June aged 26, ranks among the few great champions of the last quarter-century and won eight races during his three-year-old campaign in 1994.
The grey flopped when favourite for the Kentucky Derby, and owner-trainer Jimmy Croll declined to run him at the Breeders' Cup, but he won the Florida Derby, Metropolitan Handicap, Travers Stakes and, in spectacular style by five lengths, the Woodward Stakes. He was an almost unanimous choice as Horse of the Year.
Holy Bull incurred a career-ending injury in the 1995 Donn Handicap and the winner, Cigar, succeeded him as America's champion.
Lure won the Breeders' Cup Mile twice and should have been male turf champion and Horse of the Year in 1993, but the Eclipse Award voters preferred Kotashaan, who is not yet in the Hall of Fame.
Inside Information won the 1995 Breeders' Cup Distaff by a record margin of 13 and a half-lengths. Like Lure, she was trained by Shug McGaughey.
Other departed US stars included 1999 Horse of the Year Charismatic, Hansel, the 1991 Preakness and Belmont winner, and Royal Delta, triple champion and dual Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic (Distaff) winner.
Charismatic was a former claimer who won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, but after disputing the lead in the closing stages of his Triple Crown bid in the Belmont he faded into third place.
He was found to have broken a leg but was saved for stud duties. Not until 16 years later did American Pharoah end the long wait for another Triple Crown hero.
Among the notable deceased European Flat horses, Pentire won the King George in 1996, White Muzzle was a 'nearly' horse, coming second in two King Georges and an Arc, Sulamani landed the Prix du Jockey Club and Arlington Million, and Fame And Glory took the Irish Derby and Ascot Gold Cup.
The Tatling, one of the most popular horses of recent years, landed the King's Stand Stakes in 2004 and kept winning until the age of 14 for trainer Milton Bradley.
The ranks of stallions lost one international celebrity, Cape Cross, and two champions, Danehill Dancer and Presenting.
Cape Cross (by Green Desert), who died in April aged 23, looked an unlikely potential breed-changing sire at the time of his sole Group 1 win – in the 1998 Lockinge as the presumed Godolphin pacemaker.
Yet his very first crop included champion filly Ouija Board and he became a mainstay of the Darley breeding operation at Kildangan Stud, with world champion Sea The Stars and European champion Golden Horn his main flag-bearers.
Danehill Dancer in 2009 became the most recent stallion apart from his Coolmore studmate Galileo to be champion sire in Britain and Ireland.
Like Cape Cross, the Phoenix and National Stakes winner exceeded expectations at stud and his offspring included Choisir, Mastercraftsman and Legatissimo. He died in March aged 24.
Presenting, a son of Mtoto who finished third in Lammtarra's Derby, was champion sire of jumpers four times before his death in August, aged 25.
The great Denman and another Cheltenham Gold Cup winner, War Of Attrition, were by the Glenview Stud stallion, as were Grand National winner Ballabriggs, Weapon's Amnesty, China Rock, First Lieutenant, Yorkhill, and three Irish Grand National winners.
The breeding world also lost Lucky Pulpit, the sire of California Chrome, and Gold Allure, the top dirt sire in Japan.
Helsinge 15 Dam of Black Caviar
Cool Roxy 20 11-time winner at Fakenham
Roman Ruler 15 Sire of Ruler On Ice
Many Clouds 10 2015 Grand National
Royal Delta 9 Champion US filly/mare 2011, 2012 & 2013
Fame And Glory 11 2009 Irish Derby, 2011 Gold Cup
Lucky Pulpit 16 Sire of California Chrome
Sulamani 18 2003 Arlington Million
Louis Quatorze 24 1996 Preakness Stakes
Gold Allure 18 Champion dirt sire in Japan
Charismatic 21 US Horse of the Year 1999
White Muzzle 27 (2nd) 1993 King George, Arc
Antiquarium 5 2016 Northumberland Plate
Danehill Dancer 24 Champion sire 2009
Sunday Break 18 Sire of Never On Sunday
Hadrian's Approach 10 2014 bet365 Gold Cup
Reve De Sivola 12 2012, 2013 & 2014 Long Walk Hurdle
Bellotto 33 (3rd) 1987 Derby
Big Occasion 10 2013 Midlands Grand National
The Tatling 20 2004 King's Stand Stakes
Imperial Commander 16 2010 Cheltenham Gold Cup
Rebecca Sharp 23 1997 Coronation Stakes
Seabass 14 (3rd) 2012 Grand National
The Bay Oak 8 2017 West Wales National
Baby Zip 26 Dam of City Zip, Ghostzapper
Cape Cross 23 Sire of Sea The Stars, Golden Horn
Arpege D'Alene 7 (2nd) 2016 Pertemps Hurdle Final
Amberleigh House 25 2004 Grand National
Papillon 26 2000 Grand National
Heartbreak City 7 2016 Ebor, (2nd) Melbourne Cup
Rapper Dragon 4 2017 Hong Kong Derby
Big Fella Thanks 15 (4th) 2010 Grand National
Unusual Heat 27 Six-time leading sire in California
Devil His Due 28 Sire of Roses In May
Well Chief 18 2004 Arkle Chase
Holy Bull 26 US Horse of the Year 1994
Hansel 29 1991 Preakness & Belmont Stakes
Katarino 22 1999 Triumph Hurdle
Stormin Fever 23 Sire of Biofuel
Benchmark 26 Sire of Points Offthebench
Better Talk Now 18 2004 Breeders' Cup Turf
Somehow 4 2017 Dahlia Stakes
Tinners Way 27 1994 & 1995 Pacific Classic
Amadeus Wolf 14 2005 Middle Park Stakes
Ben's Cat 11 Maryland-bred Horse of the Year 2011-14
City Zip 19 Sire of Work All Week, Dayatthespa
Dr Massini 24 Sire of Massini's Maguire
Permian 3 2017 King Edward VII Stakes
Jack Dexter 8 2013 Chipchase Stakes
Neon Wolf 6 (2nd) 2017 Neptune Investment Nov Hurdle
Presenting 25 Four-time champion sire of jumpers
Memories Of Silver 24 1997 Beverly D Stakes
Ballet Concerto 4 2017 John Smith's Cup
Captain Forez 5 (2nd) 2017 Mersey Novices' Hurdle
Mega Fortune 4 (2nd) 2017 Triumph Hurdle
Inside Information 26 1995 Breeders' Cup Distaff
Effinex 6 2015 & 2016 Suburban Handicap
Fayonagh 6 2017 Champion Bumper
Lure 28 1992 & 1993 Breeders' Cup Mile
London Prize 6 2017 Imperial Cup
Pentire 25 1996 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes
Tour Des Champs 10 2015 Welsh National Trial
Sir Valentino 8 (3rd) 2017 Queen Mother Champion Chase
Collier Bay 27 1996 Champion Hurdle
Archipenko 13 2008 Queen Elizabeth II Cup
Starchitect 6 (2nd) 2017 BetVictor Gold Cup
Castletown 31 1991, 1992 & 1994 Wellington Cup
Nichols Canyon 7 2017 Stayers' Hurdle
Irish Cavalier 8 2016 Charlie Hall Chase
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