St Nicholas will always be very special to me -- O'Brien
ST NICHOLAS ABBEY, the highest earner in the history of racing during his spectacular Ballydoyle tenure, was put down yesterday after the latest setback among a catalogue of ailments since he was retired after fracturing a pastern on the gallops last summer.
A statement issued by Coolmore revealed that the former Aidan O'Brien-trained seven-year-old had suffered a fatal bout of colic, having survived a serious instance of the stomach affliction just two days after undergoing major surgery on his leg last July.
In August, a steel weight-bearing pin in his leg was found to have broken, and then he contracted a life-threatening bout of laminitis in November.
As one of the most talented sons of Montjeu -- which died in 2012 -- to emerge in recent years, St Nicholas Abbey had enormous potential value as a stallion. However, he never covered a single mare and his torturous post-racing existence is now over.
During a stunning career that saw him earn a record £4.9m in prize money, St Nicholas Abbey plundered six Group One wins and is the only horse to win Epsom's Coronation Cup three times.
He was sidelined for the rest of his three-year-old campaign after finishing sixth in the 2,000 Guineas in 2010, but returned to thrust O'Brien's son Joseph into the international spotlight.
O'Brien became the youngest jockey to win a Breeders' Cup race when he partnered 'St Nic' to beat Sea Moon in the Turf in November 2011. He was a mere 18 years and five months old.
"He will always be very special to me, and so will that day," said O'Brien Jnr last night. "It was my first big win on the world stage, and it was my first big win outside Ireland. He's a horse I will never forget.
"I think his best win was in the Sheema Classic in Dubai, but he was very good in his third Coronation Cup as well. In his last season (2013), he was so much better than he had ever been. He was so relaxed. He loved his racing and he loved his work."
St Nicholas Abbey ran in 21 races. He won nine of them, including six Group Ones, with two seconds and seven thirds.