Giant’s Causeway, affectionately known as the ‘Iron Horse’, died on Monday night at the age of 21, Coolmore has announced.
The brilliant six-time Group One winner, who was one of the first major superstars for trainer Aidan O’Brien, had been suffering from “a brief illness” at his Kentucky birthplace, Ashford Stud.
Giant’s Causeway was never out of the first two in 13 career starts, and went unbeaten as a juvenile in 1999.
Even better was to come in the new Millenium, although he was beaten in both the English and Irish 2,000 Guineas first.
Giant’s Causeway got back on the winning trail with a hard fought victory in the St James’s Palace Stakes and then followed-up with success in the Coral-Eclipse Stakes, where he fought an epic battle with the year older Kalanisi.
After dropping back to a mile to land the Sussex Stakes, Giant’s Causeway renewed rivalry with Kalanisi and the two fought out a carbon copy of their Eclipse Stakes, with Giant’s Causeway again showing tremendous fortitude to win.
By now, Giant’s Causeway was being labelled ‘The Iron Horse’ and he again proved irresistible in winning the Irish Champion Stakes, to make it five Group One wins in a row.
His run came to an end when Observatory was delivered wide and late, so as not to eye-ball Giant’s Causeway, in the Queen Elizabeth IInd Stakes at Ascot.
His final outing came in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs when, on what his first start on dirt, he was agonisingly denied by Tiznow in an epic encounter.
The son of Storm Cat stood for one season at Coolmore Ireland before he relocated to Ashford.
He soon became a big hit and sired First Samurai, 2000 Guineas winner Footstepsinthesand, 1000 Guineas and Coronation stakes winner Ghanaati, Maids Causeway, Oonagh Maccool, My Typhoon, Aragorn, Rite of Passage, Heatseeker, and Noble Causeway among others.
In 2007, his son Mike Fox won Canada’s most prestigious horse race, the Queen’s Plate and Red Giant won the $1 million Virginia Derby. His best offspring so far was from his first crop in 2004. Shamardal was the European Champion Two-Year-Old Colt that year and returned the following year to claim the Poule d’Essai des Poulains, the Prix du Jockey Club and the St. James’s Palace Stakes.
A statement issued by Coolmore read: “Throughout his 18 years at stud, Giant’s Causeway sired an incredible 31 Group One winners worldwide, and will leave behind a long-lasting legacy as a successful sire of sires and top broodmare sire.”
Coolmore America manager Dermot Ryan added: “Giant’s Causeway was a once-in-a-lifetime horse, and I would like to thank the owners, the Magnier and Tabor families, for entrusting us with his stud career.
“He will be a huge loss not just to us, but to the industry as a whole.”