Florida Pearl dies, aged 20

Outstanding chaser Florida Pearl died on Saturday evening, aged 20, the Irish National Stud said in a statement today.

Outstanding chaser Florida Pearl died on Saturday evening, aged 20, the Irish National Stud said in a statement today.

Formerly trained by Willie Mullins, the Violet O’Leary-owned gelding won the 2001 King George VI Chase at Kempton and a record-breaking four Irish Hennessy Gold Cups.

Florida Pearl had spent the last five years at the Co Kildare-based Irish National Stud, who said he had to be put down due to a rare condition linked to a malignant cancer.

A statement read: “We are saddened to inform you that on the evening of May 5, 2012, a decision was made on veterinary advice to euthanise Florida Pearl.

“The 20-year-old gelding, in residence at the Irish National Stud for five years, was diagnosed with a condition known as haemangisarcoma, a word deriving from ’malignant cancer of the blood vessels’.

“It is a rare condition which swiftly affects many organs once it spreads from its primary focus – in this case it originated in the spleen.

“Florida Pearl was a firm favourite among visitors to the INS and earned his retirement after a career which contained Grade One wins in seven seasons.

“One of the greatest steeplechasers we have seen, his speed was also obvious in his Cheltenham Championship Bumper success.

“Our thanks and sympathies go to the O’Leary family and the Mullins family, who have many memories to treasure.”

Florida Pearl won 16 races, nine of which were in Grade One company, from 33 starts.

Other significant victories included the Royal & SunAlliance Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, the Martell Cup at Aintree and the Punchestown Gold Cup.

He retired from racing in February 2004 after winning his fourth Irish Hennessy at Leopardstown.

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