Florida Pearl dies, aged twenty

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

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.

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

Other significant victories included the Royal & Sun Alliance 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.

Former jockey Adrian Maguire was aboard Florida Pearl when he defeated the great Best Mate by three-quarters of a length in the King George. He said: “He hasn’t been well for a while, but it’s still sad news. He had it all – he had size, he stayed well, he jumped brilliantly, and he also had speed.

“He was my last big-race winner in the same year I broke my neck, and as you get older you appreciate those great days even more.

“It was certainly one of my greatest days in the saddle – he was just a fantastic racehorse.

“He was also great for Ireland. He had such a great following and generated amazing interest whenever he ran.”


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