How sad it was to hear that just before the 2012 Flat Racing season got underway that one of its great legends, both on and off the racecourse, Montjeu, had passed away at his retirement home at Coolmore Stud. He died following a short illness “which was due to complications from an overwhelming septicaemia”.
Montjeu, who was trained by John Hammond, was retired to stud in 2000 after a glittering racing career which saw him win six Group One races including the 1999, French and Irish Derbies as well as the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. One of his greatest assets was that he could run on any ground and indeed his Arc win in 1999 was on Heavy ground, while his French Derby win was on Soft and his Irish Derby win on Good.
He also won the King George & Queen Elizabeth ll Stakes at Ascot in 2000, taking the race in scintillating style which had jockey, Mick Kinane, commenting that he treated his rivals with absolute contempt that day proving that he had a certain aura around him which stood him apart from the rest.
It is a trait that is common with many of his progeny which these days read like a “who’s who” of top class European thoroughbreds. All in all, Montjeu won a total of £2,263, 832 in prize money but he was to prove even more valuable at stud. This of course is hardly surprising when the fact that he is the son of the great Sadlers Wells is taken into consideration. Producing top class winners from this family is clearly in the blood…
Montjeu has sired three Epsom Derby winners to date, Motivator in 2005, Authorized in 2007 and Pour Moi in 2011. While other top class progeny include; Hurricane Run, winner of the 2005 Arc de Triomphe and who, like his father, also won the Irish Derby and the “King George”. Fame And Glory was another sired by Montjeu who won an Irish Derby and has since gone on to win the Ascot Gold Cup, proving that Montjeu bred horses can stay long trips as well. St Nicholas Abbey has won the Group One Coronation Cup and last year came home first in the prestigious and hugely valuable, Breeders Cup Turf at Churchill Downs. Masked Marvel proved the “staying” ability of the bloodline by winning the St Leger last year and Montjeu it should be remembered is also the father of 2011 Champion Hurdler, Hurricane Fly, which extends the sire’s legacy in to National Hunt Racing.
Camelot is the latest of the Montjeu colt’s to receive the plaudits, winner in fantastic style of the Group One Racing Post Trophy last season; he is now the clear antepost favourite for the 2000 Guineas and the 2012 Epsom Derby and what a fitting tribute it would be to his father should Camelot go on to win one of this season’s Classics.
Montjeu was one of the great horses of our times and long may his bloodline continue to flourish.