Sir Alex Ferguson’s former champion racehorse, Rock Of Gibraltar, has passed away aged 23.
The former United boss jointly owned the record breaking grade 1 horse, after being gifted a 50% stake in 2002.
The highly rated 3 year old went on to win the Dewhurst Stakes soon after, and had a phenomenal juvenile season, also winning the Grand Criterium.
But after a lucrative racing career, and years as a successful stud horse, The Irish Examiner have reported that the record breaking flat star succumbed to heart failure this morning.
“He was healthy and looking great right up to the end. He was a fantastic racehorse and a very good sire who will be missed by all the staff here” said a statement released today by the world renowned Coolmore Stud.
Part owned by Sir Alex and Sue Magnier, wife of hugely successful stud owner John Magnier, Rock of Gibraltar would go on to be at the centre of an ugly feud that culminated in legal action.
And the Irishman Magnier, who had an almost 28.89 percent stake in Manchester United at the time and a third investor JP McManus, went on to sell their shares over the disagreement, which led to the club being taken over by the Glazer family.
As the Aidan O’Brien trained racehorse was winning races and breaking records, Ferguson, Magnier and close friend to both, McManus, became embroiled in an ugly dispute over the future of the animal.
Going on to win the 2000 Guineas, as well as major races at Ascot, Goodwood and in France, Rock of Gibraltar’s career came to an end the following year.
And with Magnier’s County Tipperary stud owning the rights to the horses future breeding, Ferguson believed that the Irish magnate and business tycoon was denying him the chance to take a cut.
Ferguson believed that he was due a large sum of money relating to the star horses future stallion fees.
But the two Irishmen alleged that as the share in the horse was gifted, the Scot was only due payment on race winnings.
When the fall out ultimately went to court, Ferguson settled on a £2.5m payment, significantly less than the £200m breeding valuation that was suggested at the time.
Rock of Gibraltar went on to sire no less than 77 group one winners in his 19 years at stud, no doubt justifying Sir Alex’s decision to fight his former friends for what he received.
But it would ultimately look like pennies, compared to the £4billion that Magnier’s Coolmore Stud is believed to be currently worth, and left the biggest club in the world, with unpopular owners to this very day.