When Gloucestershire trainer John Gallagher retired his top sprinter Mac Gille Eoin last August, he anticipated that the colt would go on to a life of ease and contentment as a polo or pony stallion. After the horse tragically died from a heart attack following an operation to geld him last week, Gallagher regrets letting him leave the stable at all.
Gallagher had Mac Gille Eoin in his care almost from birth, and trained him for breeders Barry and Maggie McLean for almost eight years. During that time he won eight of his 67 races. After a short break he went to Luke Dace in West Sussex, for whom he ran four times, winning once. In what turned out to be his final race, at Kempton last December, Mac Gille Eoin was slowly away, “awkwardly” is how the Sporting Life put it, before finishing fourth, less than four lengths behind Ertikaan.
Dace said on his blog after the success at Lingfield, “Really pleased to have this horse and he had his first win for me and for him first win for 3 years last week at Lingfield, more to come.” Sadly, that wasn’t to be.
Many people remember Mac Gille Eoin for his two strong efforts in the Goodwood Stewards’ Cup, in which he finished fifth in both 2008 and 2009. Few realise that he holds the six-furlong record time at Epsom.
On hearing of the death of the horse, Gallagher said "We were devastated when we found out he'd died since leaving our care. He was such a little superstar, a real character and a real softie."
He added “I am sure most readers knew him as a speedy, tough, genuine racehorse who was around for a long time, but they may not know that he was also a proper gentleman and friend. I was proud to have trained him for eight years until I retired him in August 2012. During those eight years he won £99,000 and ran in Dubai. He gave me, his owners, our staff and many, many people lots of brilliant days racing year after year, and I was confident in the knowledge that he could continue happily in another life as a polo or pony stallion. He's been an absolute saint and I wouldn't have been without him."