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Horse Racing: El Gran Senor, a Guineas sensation after carrying all before him at two, dies at 25; BLOODSTOCK DESK.

Byline: By Nancy Sexton

DUAL champion El Gran Senor, the emphatic winner of the 2,000 Guineas in 1984, was put down on Wednesday morning due to the infirmities of old age. The 25-year-old son of Northern Dancer had been pensioned from stud duty at Coolmore's Ashford Stud in Kentucky since 2000.

Pat Eddery, who partnered the colt to all of his seven wins, said yesterday: "He was one of the best horses I ever rode.

Every day I sat on him it was exciting, even when he was beaten.

"He was an exceptional two-year-old, and he went on to win the 2,000 Guineas very easily. He was a joy for any jockey to ride, and a great horse."

Named after Northern Dancer's trainer Horatio Luro, El Gran Senor sailed through his juvenile season unbeaten for owner Robert Sangster and trainer Vincent O'Brien. Having won a maiden at Phoenix Park on his debut, the beautifully balanced bay colt made smooth progress, landing the Group 3 Railway Stakes on his next start and then the Group 2 National Stakes.

Critics were quick to point out that El Gran Senor had obliged in the National Stakes in only a workmanlike manner, but it was his electrifying performance in the Dewhurst that sealed his reputation as a colt of the highest class. In a race that featured the likes of Siberian Express and Superlative, El Gran Senor quickened out of the dip with a two-length advantage over Rainbow Quest, who pressed him all the way to the line, the pair finishing well clear.

Having been named the champion two-year-old colt of 1983, he returned at three to record an easy victory over Sadler's Wells in the Gladness Stakes before taking his chance in the 2,000 Guineas. Settled behind the trailblazing Lear Fan, El Gran Senor again produced an emphatic turn of foot to leave Chief Singer, Lear Fan, Rainbow Quest and Keen toiling in his wake. Both Chief Singer and Lear Fan would go on to become top-class milers.

Despite doubts over his stamina, El Gran Senor was then sent to the Derby, and was reportedly valued at $80 million should he win the coveted Classic.

No-one was travelling better than the colt entering the straight, but he found little under pressure when finally asked for his effort and was worn down by Secreto. Eddery's waiting tactics were the subject of heated debate for years afterwards.

O'Brien tried El Gran Senor once more over 1m4f in the Irish Derby, and the colt rewarded him with an easy victory over his old adversary Rainbow Quest.

A foot ailment kept the colt off the track for the rest of the year, at the end of which it was announced that he would be retired to Windfields Stud in Canada. He was moved to Ashford Stud in Kentucky the following year.

Disappointingly - especially given his ultimate stud record - El Gran Senor was plagued by fertility problems throughout his breeding career, resulting in a total count of fewer than 400 foals, with only 78 in his first three crops.

However, he managed to produce 12 Group 1 winners and five champions, headed by the Breeders' Cup Sprint winner Lit De Justice, 2,000 Guineas winner Rodrigo Di Triano, King George winner Belmez, and William Hill Futurity winner Al Hareb.

He has sired 248 winners from 333 runners, 55 of whom are stakes winners. His daughters are also leaving a lasting influence, none more so than the US Broodmare of the Year, Toussaud, who has bred Empire Maker, Chester House, Honest Lady and Decarchy.

"It's a very sad day as El Gran Senor has been with us here from the very beginning," said Dermot Ryan, manager of Ashford Stud. "I'd like to make special mention of Richard Barry, who has taken great care of the horse for almost 20 years."

El Gran Senor's sons have made a mixed impression at stud, with Rodrigo Di Triano posting solid results in Japan, and Al Hareb siring the Australian champion sprinter Hareeba.

Out of the unraced Buckpasser mare Sex Appeal, El Gran Senor was a brother to champion two-year-old Try My Best, the sire of Last Tycoon, and the stakes-placed Compliance, the sire of Irish 2,000 Guineas winner Fourstars Allstars. He was also a half-brother to the smart filly Solar, and traced to the blue hen Best In Show, the ancestress of Spinning World, Jazil, Aldebaran and Redoute's Choice.

CAPTION(S):

His finest hour: El Gran Senor, ridden by Pat Eddery, puts Chief Singer in his place with a scintillating victory in the 2,000 Guineas
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Article Type:Obituary
Date:Oct 20, 2006
Words:768
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