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Eclipse hero Environment Friend dies.

Byline: Peter Scargill

OWNER Bill Gredley yesterday expressed his sadness after his "great favourite" Environment Friend was put down at the age of 24 following a short illness.

During his six seasons on the track Environment Friend won the Group 1 Coral-Eclipse and Group 2 Dante Stakes and was Group 1-placed on four occasions, earning win and place prizemoney of pounds 395,951.

Bred by Gredley, who bought him back for 18,000gns as a yearling, Environment Friend began his career with James Fanshawe and gave the trainer his first Group 1 winner when he took the 1991 Eclipse by a head from Stagecraft.

Later he moved between Richard Shaw, Gary Rimmer and Clive Brittain, where he combined racing with covering mares.

Gredley said: "He was a very talented horse and he got in the shake-up in good races on so many occasions. He was covering mares between races and I regret that, but we all make mistakes. He was a great favourite and I'm very sad to hear he has died."

After a light two-year-old career, Environment Friend landed the Dante at York by five lengths before he finished a disappointing 11th in the Derby. He bounced back on his next start to land the Eclipse under George Duffield at odds of 28-1. He never won again but that year he was second in the Irish Champion Stakes and as an older horse he was twice runner-up in the Coronation Cup, including a head defeat by Opera House in 1993, and third in the Champion Stakes at Newmarket.

Duffield said yesterday: "He was a Jack the lad and inconsistent but he was talented. After he won the Dante I was dreaming of the Derby, but he ran no race. Bill said he was going for the Eclipse and I thought he was mad, but I'm pleased he was right."

Fanshawe said: "He was a nice horse and did well from two to three. After the Derby I was after a confidence-boosting race, but Bill insisted on the Eclipse. He won it, beating Stagecraft, trained by Sir Michael Stoute, who I'd just left. He was a gentleman of a horse and I'm grateful I got the chance to train him and he was my first Group 1 winner."

Environment Friend's most notable progeny include Listed winner Three Green Leaves, Royal Ascot handicap scorer Cill Rialaig and dual Kerry National winner Alfa Beat.

Frank Jarvey, owner of Mellon Stud in County Limerick, where Environment Friend spent the final years of his life, said: "He was a lovely character and was a christian of a horse. John O'Riordan, who looked after him, is in bits. He was a star horse."

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Environment Friend beats Stagecraft in the Eclipse
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Feb 29, 2012
Words:457
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