Montjeu, the sire of three Epsom Derby winners, has died aged 16 after a short illness.
Winner of six Group One races on the track, the stallion developed into one of the world’s leading sires for Coolmore, producing numerous top-class runners.
A statement from Coolmore said on Thursday: “Montjeu, the highest-rated racehorse ever by the great Sadler’s Wells, has died this morning at Coolmore Stud after a short illness which was due to complications from an overwhelming septicaemia.”
Montjeu retired to stud at the end of 2000 after a racing career that saw him land the 1999 French and Irish Derbies, as well as the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.
He was also an electrifying winner of the 2000 King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes before retiring to the paddocks.
Coolmore’s statement continued: “The sire of three Epsom Derby winners, including last year’s brilliant winner Pour Moi, as well as Camelot, the favourite for this year’s edition, Montjeu was one of the best stallions in the world and in 2011 he sired 15 individual Group/Graded winners in the northern hemisphere, which was the equal of Galileo.
“Montjeu will best be remembered for his incredible wins in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe and King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes as well as his runaway victories in the French and Irish Derbies.”
Motivator became a first Derby winner for Montjeu when landing the Epsom Classic in 2005, while Authorized followed up two years later.
French raider Pour Moi then added to the tally with his victory in 2011.
Montjeu has provided a stream of Group One winners for the Coolmore team of John Magnier, Derrick Smith and Michael Tabor, in whose colours he raced.
Other Group One-winning progeny in Europe include 2005 Irish Derby winner Hurricane Run, Ascot Gold Cup victor Fame And Glory, last year’s Breeders’ Cup Turf hero St Nicholas Abbey and St Leger winner Masked Marvel.
He also sired the 2011 Champion Hurdle winner Hurricane Fly.
Montjeu’s stud fee was as high as €125,000 in 2008 and his last published price was €75,000 in 2011.
His fee for this term was listed as private.
John Hammond trained Montjeu to win 11 of his 16 starts, with four back-to-back Group One victories in 1999 and three successive wins, including the King George, at the highest level in 2000.
Speaking in 2009, Hammond pinpointed that Ascot victory as possibly Montjeu’s finest hour on the track.
He said: “I think his King George run has to be rated as his best.
“I made a mistake two days before he won the Arc by taking him out of the Champion Stakes at Newmarket but he was so well he could have gone for it.
“In the King George he was really on top of his game.
“Occasionally with certain horses they have a level of fitness and performance that is very difficult to achieve on more than one or two occasions, and that was his day.”
Mick Kinane rode Montjeu to five victories, including in the 1999 Arc and the King George.
He said: “He was a really outstanding racehorse – one of the few outstanding racehorses I’ve ridden.
“That King George win was pretty good all right. He treated them with contempt that day and it was just a privilege to be on board.
“He had some other good performances in the Irish Derby and the Arc, and he’s obviously going to be sadly missed.
“He had an aura about him and a few issues, and the great horses he’s sired have all had that as well – that’s what’s made them great.
“His fillies have been much better of late as well and I think he’s going to end up being an outstanding broodmare stallion.
“He’s going to leave a big hole in racing.”