Gloucestershire racehorse trainer John Gallagher "devastated" by death of Mac Gille Eoin after star sprinter leaves his stable
TRAINER John Gallagher and his wife Rebecca were "devastated" to learn of the death of their highly-popular sprinter Mac Gille Eoin only months after he left their stable.
Gallagher, who trained Mac Gille Eoin for virtually the whole of his career at Grove Farm Stables in Chastleton near Moreton-in-Marsh, announced his retirement from racing last summer with a view to him becoming a polo or pony stallion.
He was shocked and saddened to find the nine-year-old, bred and owned by Barry and Maggie McClean, had returned to training with West Sussex-based Luke Dace.
Mac Gille Eoin raced three times for Dace, winning a low-grade race at Lingfield to take his career tally to nine, but after he refused to race on his latest start he died of a heart attack after a gelding operation.
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Gallagher said: "I am sure most readers knew him as a speedy, tough, genuine racehorse who was around for a long time, but they may not know that he was also a proper gentleman and friend.
"I was proud to have trained him for eight years until I retired him in August 2012.
"During those eight years he won £99,000 and ran in Dubai.
"He loved Goodwood and Epsom where, at the latter, he still holds the current six-furlong course record.
"He gave me, his owners, our staff and many, many people lots of brilliant days racing year after year, and I was confident in the knowledge that he could continue happily in another life as a polo or pony stallion.
"We were devastated when we found out he'd died since leaving our care.
"He was such a little superstar, a real character and a real softie."
As well as his wins, Mac Gille Eoin helped put Gallagher's stable on the map by twice finishing fifth in the Stewards' Cup at Goodwood, in 2008 and 2009, and running at most of the major racecourses in Britain.
When he announced his retirement last summer, Gallagher said: "He's been an absolute saint and I wouldn't have been without him."