Baracouda, the four-time Long Walk Hurdle winner and dual Stayers’ Hurdle hero, has died at the age of 28.
Handled superbly well by Francois Doumen and ridden for the majority of his career by the trainer’s son, Thierry, Baracouda was seen more in Britain than France after his initial foray in 2000.
That first trip across the Channel saw him beat Deano’s Beeno by 15 lengths in the Long Walk at Ascot – after which he was bought by JP McManus – and he followed up in the National Spirit at Fontwell.
Unfortunately he was denied his first Cheltenham Festival appearance by the foot and mouth disease so in March 2001 he had his last French outing, winning at Auteuil.
At the end of that campaign Baracouda did get to prove his worth at Sandown in a race which was effectively a replacement for the Stayers’ Hurdle.
The following season he won the Ascot Hurdle, another Long Walk, the Rendlesham and held off Bannow Bay in a thrilling Stayers’ Hurdle.
Denied a third Long Walk Hurdle in 2002 by a masterclass from Tony McCoy on old rival Deano’s Beeno, he nevertheless beat Iris’s Gift to land his second Cheltenham Festival win.
He was to win two more Long Walks, the latter at Windsor, but he could not quite add his list to those that won the Stayers’ Hurdle three times, finishing second to Iris’s Gift in 2004 and Inglis Drever in 2005, by which time McCoy had taken over in the saddle for the final five races of his career.
McManus’ racing manager Frank Berry said: “He was a superstar. We were very lucky to have him, he gave us some great days and the Doumens did a great job with him.
“He was 28 and he was very healthy up until lately. He enjoyed his time in Martinstown (McManus’ stud in Ireland).
“I think he was one of the ones who put staying hurdling back on the map big time. It was a division that went under the radar, but he lit it up because he was coming over from France for the Long Walk every year and kept putting up big performances.
“It was unfortunate he missed his first Cheltenham because of foot and mouth, otherwise who knows, he may have won that too.”