Derby winner Lammtarra – “The Lion” – dies at 22

Lammtarra. © Darley Europe

Heroic 1995 Epsom Derby winner Lammtarra has died at the age of 22 after a short illness.

Lammtarra, by Nijinsky and from the Blushing Groom mare Show Bride, was put to sleep at Dalham Hall stud in Suffolk, near Newmarket, on Sunday, July 6.

He also won the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes and the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. He is one of only two horses to win all three races, the other being Mill Reef.

The colt was raced by Saeed Maktoum al Maktoum, whose uncle, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, bred Lammtarra at his Gainsborough Farm in Versailles, Kentucky.

He was trained initially by Alex Scott, who died in a fatal shooting at his Newmarket stables in September 1994, at the age of 34. Scott had been confident of winning the Derby with Lammtarra and placed £1,000 at 33/1 with Ladbrokes. But after the death of his trainer, the colt was sent to Sheikh Mohammed’s Godolphin operation to continue his career.

He was ill during his preparation and when he lined up for the big race at Epsom, it was to be his first run in 302 days.

Lammtarra smashed the course record that had stood for almost 60 years and also became the first colt to take the Derby without a prep race since Grand Parade in 1919.

There were emotional scenes in the winner’s enclosure afterwards, as jockey Walter Swinburn and Sheikh Mohammed paid tribute to Alex Scott. Normally, bookmakers will cancel a bet if the person placing it dies. However, Ladbrokes let Scott’s ante-post bet on Lammtarra stand and paid the winnings to his widow.

Lammtarra was the first horse by a Derby winner and out of an Oaks winner to win the Derby.

He returned the following month, taking on older rivals in the King George and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes. Headed by Pentire two furlongs from home, Lammtarra battled back brilliantly to win by a neck and keep his unbeaten record intact.

He then travelled to Paris for the Arc and was duly sent off favourite. Once again Lammtarra demonstrated the grit and determination that had earned him the nickname ‘the lion’ as he bravely fought off each and every challenger to post a three-quarter-length victory and cement his position as the Champion three-year-old of his year.

Lammtarra stood his first season at Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s Dalham Hall Stud near Newmarket. At the end of the 1996 breeding season, he was sold to Japanese breeders for $30 million to stand for a stud fee of £30,000. His fee was later reduced to £2500 after his progeny met with limited success. However, his daughters have become highly sought after.

In August 2006, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum bought back Lammtarra from Japan’s Arrow Stud and the horse returned to Dalham Hall Stud to live out his days in retirement.

Liam O’Rourke, Darley’s Stud Director, said: “Lammtarra was a horse that was very close to Sheikh Mohammed’s heart. He was very intelligent, a true gentleman and never gave anyone a moment’s trouble. Sadly, this was his time to go and we are pleased that he passed away comfortably. He will be missed by everyone here at Dalham.”



One thought on “Derby winner Lammtarra – “The Lion” – dies at 22

  • July 10, 2014 at 3:07 am

    The honourable thing to do, well done Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. I’m glad he got to live out his days at Dalham, it’s what he deserved.


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