Kinane leads tributes to ‘outstanding’ Montjeu

Mick Kinane and John Hammond led the tributes to Montjeu after one of the greatest racehorses of the modern era and the sire of three Epsom Derby winners died, aged 16, following a short illness.

Winner of six Group One races, including the King George and Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, the son of Sadler’s Wells developed into one of the world’s leading stallions for Coolmore.

A statement from Coolmore said: “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 also saw him land the 1999 French Derby and the Irish equivalent.

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.”

Montjeu’s victory in the 2000 King George was undoubtedly the most impressive in the mid-summer spectacular at Ascot for many a year.

Big-race rider Kinane said: “He was a really outstanding racehorse.

“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.”

Chantilly-based trainer Hammond branded Montjeu an “eccentric genius”.

“It’s really sad news,” he said.

“He provided us with some magic moments and some great memories.”

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.

* Census, the sharp middle-distance stayer from Richard Hannon’s yard, died on Wednesday morning as a direct result of a fractured pelvis.

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