herald

Monday 18 December 2017

Breeders' Cup hero Royal Academy dies in Australia

CHERISHED racehorse and stallion Royal Academy has died at the age of 25.

One of the last links to both English Triple Crown hero Nijinsky and his late trainer Vincent O'Brien, Royal Academy is best remembered for winning the 1990 Breeders' Cup Mile.

He was ridden that day by Lester Piggott, who had only just been released from a stint in prison.

Royal Academy also won the July Cup and died of old age at Coolmore, Australia, where he spent the last part of his life. "It's very sad," said Coolmore's Tom Magnier.

Silvestre de Sousa's main supplier of winners during his breakthrough season believes the jockey has made a smart decision to join the Godolphin team.

Mark Johnston provided the Brazilian with 70 winning mounts in 2011 as he went on to finish second behind Paul Hanagan in the jockeys' championship, and the Middleham trainer would still like to use him when he can.

Johnston oversees a large string for Sheikh Mohammed's son, Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Al Maktoum, and the best of these usually graduate to the Godolphin operation.

De Sousa is currently riding in Dubai and will start to link up alongside Frankie Dettori in the famous royal blue silks.

"There's no question he's making the right decision," said Johnston.

Donald McCain has ruled out the possibility of impressive Ascot winner Super Duty making a trip to next month's Cheltenham Festival.

The six-year-old was victorious on his first two outings over hurdles at Carlisle and Haydock, but suffered a heavy fall at the final flight when going for the hat-trick at Ayr in early January.

He showed he had suffered no ill effects when giving weight and a beating to the talented Keys last weekend, but his trainer does not believe his charge is ready for Cheltenham.

"He's still quite immature," said McCain.

Champion Hurdle contender Grandouet could still make the Cheltenham Festival after undergoing a successful operation on an infected fetlock joint.

Trainer Nicky Henderson said: "It's a peculiar one, there's no wound."

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