Updated on 09/17/2011 10:29AM

International sire Danehill dies


LEXINGTON, Ky. - Globally influential stallion Danehill, the sire of North American champion turf mare Banks Hill and multiple Group 1 winner Rock of Gibraltar among many other stakes winners, died Tuesday in a paddock accident in Ireland.

The stallion was 17 and died after flipping over backward and hitting his head. The horse was being hand-grazed in his paddock at the time of the accident, according to a Coolmore statement.

Danehill was one of the first horses to shuttle between the Northern and Southern hemispheres, standing in Ireland and Australia starting in 1990. The program has resulted in more than 2,100 foals for the stallion, and those numbers bore fruit with more than 200 stakes winners to date. Danehill's progeny routinely have taken important races, from Australia to Europe and North America. In an example of Danehill's dominance as a sire, his offspring Clodovil and Catcher in the Rye finished first and second in the French 2000 Guineas over the weekend.

Top Coolmore officials were unavailable to comment on the stallion's death, but at least some breeders with mares booked to the horse had been made aware of the loss.

"It's a major loss, because he was such a good horse, and we had such good ones from him, like Banks Hill," said Dr. John Chandler, who runs the North American operation for Prince Khalid Abdullah's Juddmonte Farms. Juddmonte, which bred and raced Danehill, sold him to Coolmore in the late 1980's and had mares booked to him in Ireland this year.

"He was such an outstanding sire on both surfaces and in both hemispheres," Chandler said. "I think this will be a big loss, especially to the Australian industry."

Danehill in 1990 became one of the first stallions to shuttle regularly between Ireland and Australia, starting what has become a substantial - and, for the Coolmore operation, essential - trend among today's stallion operations. Coolmore now leads the industry in stallion shuttling. Coolmore announced last June that it would rest the stallion for the 2002 Southern Hemisphere season, leaving him in Ireland.

Danehill's outstanding progeny also include champions Mozart, Dansili, Desert Lady, Danehurst, Danehill Dancer, and Great Dane; American Grade 1 winners Danish, Landseer, and Dress to Thrill; and Australian champions Danewin, Redoute's Choice, and Rose of Danehill.

A son of Claiborne Farm stallion Danzig and the His Majesty mare Razyana, Danehill won the Group 1 Ladbroke Sprint Cup, Group 3 Cork and Orrery Stakes, and Ladbrokes European Free Handicap, all in England. He also finished third in the English 2000 Guineas and the July Cup, and ran fourth in the Irish 2000 Guineas.

"He had great speed, but it was difficult to harness," Chandler recalled. "The only Group 1 he won was over six furlongs, but [trainer] Jeremy Tree always felt he had the potential to go farther than that.

"I certainly thought that, with his breeding and female line, he had a great chance to be a stallion. But we weren't quite as much of a stallion operation then as we are now, and so we sold him to Coolmore. I don't recall the price now, but it was a handsome price. He was the first major horse to shuttle between Ireland and Australia, and they did this to help recoup their money. I would say he recouped it immeasurably and possibly was the best investment they ever made."