Photo: Eclipse Sportswire - Ryan Lasek
The King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot will be run without the star attraction of St Nicholas Abbey on Saturday after the colt suffered a serious career ending injury during routine work in Ireland on Tuesday morning.
A six-year-old son of Montjeu, St Nicholas Abbey has been a regular visitor to the Ascot showpiece without claiming victory and had been entering this season's renewal as the favoured choice in the British betting markets.
A six-time Group One winner, St Nicholas Abbey had won at the highest level in every year other than his Classic season, during which he faced a lengthy lay off after finishing sixth in the English 2,000 Guineas as the even-money favourite.
A return to the racetrack as a four year old saw St Nicholas Abbey bounce back to his very best with a nine length success in the Ormonde Stakes at Chester. A subsequent victory over Midday in the Coronation Cup at Epsom would prove to be the first of three consecutive victories in a race that the Montjeu colt would make his own with considerable ease.
Victory in the 2011 Breeders' Cup Turf by St Nicholas Abbey provided Aidan & Joseph O' Brien with the first father-son partnership victory in the Championships history with the colt looking likely to return to the Breeders Cup for the third consecutive year for the 2013 event.
Second in the 2012 Dubai Sheema Classic, St Nicholas Abbey also bounced back to claim the 2013 renewal at Meydan in March when comfortably accounting for the Japan Cup winner, Gentildonna, under a masterful Joseph O' Brien ride.
A colt whom arguably advertised the riding expertees of Joseph O'Brien more often than any who had gone before or after, the partnership and admiration between rider and horse was one which regularly warmed the heart of many a racing fan. O' Brien partnered St Nicholas Abbey to four of his six Group One victories in a thirteen race association.
"St Nicholas Abbey suffered a serious career ending injury at Ballydoyle this morning, vets are currently attending to him," said an official Coolmore statement. "We hope to save him for a career at stud, a further update will be posted later."
A winner of nine races from twenty one lifetime starts, St Nicholas Abbey ends his racing career with his total career earnings just shy of £5 million.