sport

Rodrigo De Triano dies aged 25

Trainer Peter Chapple-Hyam says he was proud to have been associated with Rodrigo De Triano after the dual Guineas winner's death was announced on Tuesday.

The Japanese Racing Association confirmed that the five-times Group One scorer, owned by the late Robert Sangster, died of pneumonia, aged 25.

Rodrigo De Triano had been in the Far East on stud duties, during which time he sired Japanese Oaks winner Erimo Excel, since retiring from a star-spangled racing career 22 years ago.

The son of El Gran Senor won nine of his 13 races, with his most noteworthy achievement coming at Newmarket in May 1992, when he landed the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket by a length and a half under Lester Piggott.

Two weeks later he again combined with Piggott to take the Irish Guineas at the Curragh.

Chapple-Hyam said: "Without a shadow of a doubt, he was the best horse I've ever trained - and the best horse I probably will train.

"He wasn't very big, but he was unbelievably tough and he had an unbelievably big heart.

"He meant so much to me and I was privileged to have been with him throughout his career.

"I didn't think his death would affect me quite like it has done. I'm actually quite upset about it and will raise something in his honour tonight.

"I'm sure he was well looked after in Japan. He'll never be forgotten."

Rodrigo De Triano also secured top-level victories in the Middle Park Stakes - one of five triumphs in an unbeaten juvenile campaign - the Champion Stakes back at Newmarket and, perhaps most significantly, the Juddmonte International at York in August 1992.

Many had dismissed his chances on the Knavesmire after he had only finished ninth in the Epsom Derby and then fourth in the St James's Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot.

It was to prove folly, as Piggott's companion gained a definitive advantage a furlong out before defeating Pat Eddery and All At Sea by a length at odds of 8-1, with Derby winner and stablemate Dr Devious only fourth.

Chapple-Hyam said: "I think the Juddmonte was his finest hour as people had written him off and he showed everyone, he was superb that day.

"Once we found out what the ground was like, I was very confident he'd win."

Piggott, then 56, said at the time: "I always thought I'd win. I never think otherwise in this game."

His victory in the Champion Stakes was the first for a Guineas winner in the same season since Brigadier Gerard in 1971, and saw him afforded a reception worthy of Desert Orchid at Cheltenham.

It was a late decision to run, and Chapple-Hyam said: "That was some performance, especially as he was lame the week before and he was short of work."

Rodrigo De Triano's swansong came later that year in the Breeders' Cup Classic at Gulfstream Park, in which he finished last in the hands of Walter Swinburn.

Sangster's son, Sam, believes the exceptional chestnut deserves to take the highest rank at Swettenham Stud, from where Rodrigo De Triano was bred by his owner.

He said: "He was a horse that really started Pete's career off with a real bang. He was a great horse who was held very dearly to the heart of my father.To win five Group Ones, including the Guineas and the Juddmonte, was some achievement.

"He was amazingly tough and reliable. He was such a wonderful horse for us all to be associated with. There are paintings of him all over our houses and, with a CV like that, he was definitely amongst the best we have ever had."