There was some deeply sad news on Sunday, as superstar miler Rip Van Winkle passed away aged 14 in New Zealand, where he was standing at Windsor Park Stud.
A consummate professional
Trained by Aidan O’Brien for all of his racing career, he ended his tenure as a three-time Group 1 winner, but that doesn’t even come close to depicting his fantastic career.
A dual winner as a juvenile, he bumped into Sea The Stars three times as a three-year-old. Fourth in both the Guineas and Epsom Derby, he gave John Oxx’s star a real scare in the Coral-Eclipse of that year. When finally not faced with him, he landed his first Group 1, the Sussex Stakes at Glorious Goodwood.
He was rated 130 at his peak and he gained his second Group 1 at the same time, readily taking the Queen Elizabeth II at Ascot. Such was his talent, that he was sent off 2/1 favourite for the 2009 Breeders’ Cup Classic. He didn’t give his running by any stretch of the imagination that day, however.
His final season would be as a four-year-old, where he was perhaps unfortunate not to walk away with three Group 1s. He went down by a neck to Canford Cliffs when bidding to go back to back in the Sussex Stakes, before landing the Juddemonte International at York in a pulsating finish.
No match for Cape Blanco in his penultimate outing, he went down by just a nose in his final race. He rallied bravely before succumbing to a younger Poet’s Voice in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes.
One of the greats
Galileo has produced some outstanding horses, including the legendary Frankel. It shows you just how special Rip Van Winkle was, given he’s the second-best horse that Galileo has ever produced. His peak rating of 130 puts him above the likes of Nathaniel, Waldgeist, Austria, Ulysses and Cape Blanco.
His stud career began in Ireland, before he moved over to New Zealand where he stood at Windsor Park Stud. Although understandably nowhere near the achievements of their father, his progeny have hit some great heights.
Te Akau Shark is a dual Group 1 winner in Australia and New Zealand, the best of his bunch. In Great Britain and Ireland, Higher Power won the 2017 Northumberland Plate, while Dick Whittington was a Group 1 winner in Ireland for Joesph O’Brien.