St Nicholas Abbey won’t be taking his place in the field for Saturday’s King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot. Indeed, he won’t be seen on the racecourse again. A terse statement on the Coolmore website explained why.
It read: “St Nicholas Abbey suffered a serious career ending injury at Ballydoyle this morning, vets are currently attending to him. We hope to save him for a career at stud, a further update will be posted later.”
That doesn’t sound too promising for the stallion, who gained a position as one of the top juveniles of 2009 before injury restricted him a single appearance the following year. Then he was the favourite for the 2,000 Guineas, but managed only a disappointing sixth place behind Makfi.
In the last three years, his name and the Coronation Cup at Epsom could not be separated, as St Nicholas Abbey became the first horse to win the race three times. On each occasion he came out on top of small, high-class fields. Both Midday (2011) and Dunaden (2013) were multiple Group 1 winners, and Red Cadeaux (2012) had won Group races and had finished just a nose behind Dunaden in the Melbourne Cup the previous season.
He was one of the horses that helped bring Joseph O’Brien to the fore as a top class jockey, and their partnership in winning the Breeders’ Cup Turf two years ago made O’Brien the youngest jockey to ride a Breeders’ Cup winner, when he was still just 18 years of age.
Whilst St Nicholas Abbey owes his owners, John Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith nothing – he’s won nine of his 21 races and almost £5m in prize money – he would clearly have plenty of value at stud, and therefore no effort will be spared to save him.