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Roger Varian’s Group 1-winning grey Defoe suffered a fatal injury on the gallops this morning.
In a tribute to Defoe on his trainer Roger Varian’s website, it states:
“It is probably not a safe assumption that only those who were closely connected with the horse will be heartbroken that he has left this life. Although not large in stature Defoe had the heart of a lion and his adoring fans from around the world will no doubt join us in mourning his loss and celebrating his achievements.”
The six-year-old Irish-bred was owned by Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum, was trained at Varian Stable in Newmarket, and had been ridden in most of his races by Andrea Atzeni.
RIP Defoe 💔
🏆 Coronation Cup
🏆 Hardwicke Stakes
🏆 Jockey Club Stakes
🏆 Surprise Stakes
🏆 Geoffrey Freer Stakes
Absolutely devastating news 😔 pic.twitter.com/neg9ZYAYLM
— Racing Breaks (@RacingBreaks) July 29, 2020
Having won just one minor race as a two-year-old, the son of Dalakhani (from whom he inherited his grey colour) won four consecutive races as a three-year-old including the Listed Glasgow Stakes and the Group 3 Geoffrey Freer Stakes.
In 2018 Defoe won the Group 3 John Porter Stakes and the Group 2 Jockey Club Stakes and was gelded at the end of that year.
He claimed his only Group 1 success as a five-year-old when taking the Coronation Cup at Epsom, beating Kew Gardens, who had won the Ladbrokes St Leger at Doncaster the previous season. Defoe went on to register a win in the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot, a victory that would ultimately turn out to be his last.
Last March he suffered a short-head defeat in the Group 2 City Of Gold at Meydan, UAE, with his long term target having been the Group 1 Sheema Classic three weeks later, on Dubai World Cup night. That meeting was abandoned however following the coronavirus outbreak.
Referring to Defoe’s final race at Royal Ascot in June, today’s statement from Varian Stable said:
“It is a great sadness that Defoe’s final race came at an eerily empty Royal Ascot where he ran an admirable race to finish third in the G2 Hardwicke Stakes, a scene that was a world away from those jubilant celebrations with Sheikh Mohammed Obaid in the winner’s enclosure twelve months previously.”
Defoe won a total of nine races from 22 career starts, and claimed £809,192 in prize money. In the 2019 World’s Best Racehorse Rankings, Defoe was given a rating of 118, making him the 78th best racehorse in the world.