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Vintage Crop dies aged 27

Vintage Crop, one of the greatest stayers and most popular horses of all time has died at the age of 27. Under the tutelage of Dermot Weld, the brilliant son of Rousillon famously won the Melbourne Cup in 1993, the first time that ‘the race that stops a nation’ was won by a horse trained in Europe.


Owned by Michael Smurfit, Vintage Crop kicked off his career in amazing fashion, winning a 2 mile flat race at Thurles by a whopping 8 lengths despite being sent off as a 20/1 shot and supposedly the second string for the Weld yard, with stablemate Padiord sent off as a popular 3/1 second favourite.


He would go on to win his first two starts over hurdles towards the end of 1991, eventually tasting defeat for the first time the following August over an inadequate 1 mile 1 furlong. It would not be until the Irish Leger in ’93 that Vintage Crop would record his first Group 1 victory, just three weeks before he would stamp his name in racing folklore down under.


He would successfully defend his Irish Leger crown the following year but two more efforts in the Melbourne Cup would prove to be fruitless, finishing 7th in 1994 before a fine 3rd place finish the following year, the last time that he would be seen on the racecourse, with connections happy to retire their stalwart having amassed over £1 million in prize money throughout his career.


He would live out the rest of his life among the Living Legends attraction at the National Stud in Co. Kildare.


Mick Kinane, who partnered Vintage Crop on 21 of his 28 starts including his famous Melbourne Cup victory lead the tributes to the top class stayer: “He was an iconic stayer and we created history, so he’ll always have a special place in my heart.


“He was a very tough and genuine horse and also very talented.


“He won the Melbourne Cup, two Irish St Legers and the Cesarewitch. He didn’t manage to win the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot. He just didn’t stay well enough.


“We were pretty confident going into the Melbourne Cup. He’d won the Irish Leger, the rain came, we were expecting a big performance and he produced.”


By Kevin Walsh / Photo: PA Archive


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