Willie Mullins on Sunday paid tribute to his stable star Wicklow Brave, who sadly lost his life when falling in the American Grand National at Far Hills on Saturday evening.
The remarkable 10-year-old conquered all codes and was on the verge of adding another notable win to his already decorated CV when he fell at the last with the race at his mercy.
He sustained a fractured right shoulder and could not be saved.
"I would like to pay tribute to Wicklow Brave who was a real legend in our yard," Mullins said. "A career like his will probably never be replicated, going from bumpers to hurdles to to the Flat then chasing.
"His best day was winning the [Irish] St Leger, however, winning the Punchestown Champion Hurdle with Patrick [Mullins. his son] on board to put us ahead in that memorable trainers' battle will be remembered around here for a long time."
The serial Irish champion trainer added: "He will be missed by Wicklow Bloodstock's Nick Peacock, [plus] Jason Dear who rode him everyday and looked after his every need and all at Closutton."
Watch how Wicklow Brave won at the Cheltenham Festival in 2015 - one of numerous big wins for him
In total, Wicklow Brave won 17 of his 59 races and the best part of £1 million in prize-money.
His Irish St Leger success under Frankie Dettori in 2016 was gained at the expense of Order Of St George. His other big included the 2015 County Hurdle, the 2017 Punchestown Champion Hurdle and two Galway festival triumphs in a memorable career.
Jockey Paul Townend, who escaped injury in the fall at Far Hills, admits Wicklow Brave is a significant loss for the Mullins team.
He teamed up with the Beat Hollow gelding on 16 occasions, including when winning the 2015 County Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.
Townend also enjoyed a memorable spin on the level with Wicklow Brave, finishing third in the 2015 Irish St Leger in what the rider described as a “stand-out moment” in his career.
He said: “Wicklow Brave was an unbelievable horse, and it looked like we were going to have great day, but it put a real dampener on the trip.
“It is a tight track, and the ground is so quick underneath. The soil on the top was starting to shift a little bit, which wasn’t ideal.
“It is a tight bend (before the last) – but once I got him balanced again, he was starting to open up again. I thought I’d have won – and he is a big, big loss.
“Winning the County Hurdle was a high point, and riding him in the St Leger was something I’ll probably never again get to do – riding in a Classic on the Flat was a stand-out moment for me.”
Wicklow Brave won more than £940,000 during his career, with a Grade Three win over fences also to his credit along with a raft of places at Group level on the Flat and in Graded company over obstacles.
He also twice contested the Melbourne Cup, finishing 22nd in 2016 and 10th a year later.
Far Hills race meeting chairman Guy Torsilieri said: “We are sad to have lost such a champion. Our thoughts are with Wicklow Brave’s owners and all of their connections, the racing community and the fans. It was heartbreaking for all of us.”
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