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Racing News: Danoli, hero of a nation, is retired.

DANOLI, one of the most popular jumpers of recent years and dubbed `the People's Champion' in Ireland, has been retired.

Though his career was plagued by injury, Danoli's big-race wins included a Sun Alliance Novices' Hurdle, two Martell Aintree Hurdles and an Irish Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup-successes which produced a huge

following in his native land, where he was trained in County Carlow by Tom Foley.

The trainer said yesterday: "We've been discussing the situation for some time and it has been decided to retire him. He's 12 now and the

injury he got at Liverpool was very, very severe at the time, so we'd hate anything to happen to him now.

"He's given us some great memories and is a horse we'll hardly ever see the like of again. We just don't want to take any kind of chance with him in a chase and see him being put down.

"I still have him here with me for now. He's out during the day and in at night, and seems in grand shape.

"He'll be taking it nice and easy in his retirement, as his old joints can get a bit sore on hard ground. The one thing he'd love would be to get to one or two of those shows, as he's always liked a crowd cheering him!"

Danoli, who recovered from life-

saving surgery on a fractured fetlock at the Liverpool University Veterinary School after winning his second Martell Aintree Hurdle in 1995, won 17 races from 32 starts and was the overall top-rated hurdler in his novice season, 1993/94.

Foley has several special memories of the brave gelding by The Parson, who became a household name in


He said: "My two favourite wins were the Sun Alliance at Cheltenham and the Hennessy over here. Cheltenham is hard to beat, and to travel there and win was beyond our wildest dreams.

"But my favourite memory was possibly when he was third to Collier Bay at Leopardstown in the 1996 Irish Champion Hurdle. That was his first day back after his serious injury and it almost brought tears to my eyes."

Danoli's owner, Danny O'Neill, said: "It's a pity, but all good things come to an end and, at the age of 12, his best days are over.

"His last visit to Cheltenham [when he was favourite for the 1997 Gold Cup] destroyed him. The ground

didn't suit him and he should have been pulled up.

"We'll put him out into a field by the house and let him run around enjoying the rest of his days."

Charlie Swan enjoyed some great moments with Danoli, winning on him seven times. The pair landed a huge gamble in the Sun Alliance Novices' Hurdle and took two Martell Aintree Hurdles together.

Swan said: "He was a lovely horse and a real gent. He was so tough and genuine-those were his strongest points. He had real courage, as he showed when cracking a bone in his leg at Liverpool. He was the second-best horse-after Istabraq-that I've ever ridden."

Tommy Treacy, who rode Danoli to another emotional victory over Jodami in the 1997 Irish Hennessy at Leopardstown, said: "He was

super and was very good to me-we had some nice times together.

"Any time he got round in a chase, he was never far away. He had a heart like a lion and was a great horse to be involved with."
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Title Annotation:Sports
Author:Brown, Gordon
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Aug 14, 2000
Previous Article:Small-town star who opened the floodgates of emotion; Tributes flow for the former champion with whom all Ireland had a love affair.
Next Article:Racing News: Media-rights pledge for small tracks.

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