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Godolphin greats: Papineau - from Gold Cup glory to Lifetime Care Champion

Papineau, a striking chestnut by the outstanding Darley stallion Singspiel, has proved a Champion both on and off the track.

He is a half-brother to Derby runner-up Silver Patriarch and was bred by the late Peter Winfield and bought at the Tattersalls December Sale for just under £90,000 in 2000.

As is traditional with the majority of Godolphin’s European youngstock, Papineau travelled to Ireland where he was raised at Blackhall Stud in Co Kildare.

Always well regarded, Papineau entered training with André Fabre and made a promising debut in April 2003 at Saint-Cloud. There he and Touch Of Land drew well clear of the field before Papineau was beaten just a short head by the future six-time Group.

Next time out, however, he was not to be headed, never mind beaten, as he dominated over 12 furlongs, again at Saint-Cloud, to break his maiden later the same month.

Papineau swiftly and successfully stepped up a level, winning the Listed Prix de l’Avre at Longchamp in the middle of May.

This earned him a tilt at the G1 Prix du Jockey Club (French Derby) where he finished fifth, despite clearly not enjoying the firm conditions – in fact, post race, a hairline fracture was discovered.

Papineau was transferred to Godolphin’s Saeed bin Suroor in early 2004 and after almost a year away from the racecourse, returned with a convincing victory, besting stablemate Songlark over 12 furlongs at Goodwood in May 2004.

Next stop was Sandown and another step up; this time to two miles and a debut at G2. Papineau put in another strong performance to win a sprint finish, landing the Henry II Stakes from Mr Dinos, a proven stayer.

This victory was enough to earn Papineau a shot at the G1 Ascot Gold Cup, the world’s longest G1 contest and the biggest test of his stamina yet. The signs were good, as Mr Dinos had won the previous year’s race.

Many questioned the appearance in the time-honoured race of a horse who had won over a mile and a half a little over a month previously, but Papineau was about to prove the naysayers wrong – in the most convincing fashion.

Settled towards the rear under Frankie Dettori, Papineau travelled beautifully throughout and began to make headway with half a mile left. His only serious challenger was the French raider and multiple G1 winner Westerner, but Papineau proved simply too strong.

He crossed the line a length and a half ahead, in the process providing Godolphin with a fourth Gold Cup winner, following Classic Cliche in 1996 and Kayf Tara, who won in 1998 and 2000.

That proved Papineau’s racing peak and he retired in 2005. But that was not the end of his story with Godolphin.

Having been rehomed and retrained as a dressage horse, where he competed in both affiliated dressage and Racehorse to Riding Horse show classes, Papineau returned to Newmarket where he enjoyed life as a hack with Amber Tait, wife of Olly Tait and now co-owner of Twin Hills Stud in Australia.

As a flagbearer for Godolphin’s Lifetime Care programme, which aims to look after the best interests of a horse from cradle to grave, Papineau moved to Godolphin’s pre-training facility at Hamilton Hill in 2016, where under the care of Lilli Hines, his wonderful temperament was put to good use as he led out the yearlings each morning.

A keen dressage rider, Lilli continued this element of his retraining and the pair would visit Palace House in Newmarket for dressage and farriery demonstrations in conjunction with the Retraining of Racehorses initiative (RoR).

For two years running, Lilli and Papineau travelled to Deauville where they were the stars of the Au-Dela des Pistes G1 Champions’ Parade.

In 2017, he won the Newmarket Hacks’ Class as part of the Henry Cecil Open Weekend (formerly Newmarket Open Weekend). He has also taken part in RoR parades at Ascot and Newmarket racecourses.

He also supported the launch of the Godolphin Beacon Project, a joint venture between Godolphin, Newmarket Academy and the education charity Racing to School, in September 2016. Papineau travelled to Newmarket Academy where he met many of the school’s pupils.

And last year, he was undoubtedly the star of the show during the Open Weekend where he was on show at Craven House alongside fellow Gold Cup winner Colour Vision, plus Dubai World Cup-winning duo African Story and Prince Bishop.

Now fully retired, Papineau is enjoying life at Woodditton Stud, just outside Newmarket. He is cared for by Stud Groom Geraldine Jones, whose daughter Megan feeds him every day, along with his paddock mates African Story, Colour Vision and Prince Bishop. Lilli Hines is, of course, a regular visitor.