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Gold Cup hero and Godolphin Lifetime Care ambassador Papineau dies at 24

Papineau, who has died at the age of 24, truly was a Champion both on and off the track. From Ascot Gold Cup winner to Godolphin Lifetime Care Ambassador, he epitomised the versatility of the thoroughbred and the very special connection between horses and humans.

He was a half-brother to Derby runner-up Silver Patriarch and was bred by the late Peter Winfield and bought at the Tattersalls December Sale 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, beaten just a short head. Next time out 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.

Papineau was transferred to Saeed bin Suroor in early 2004 and 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.

Settled towards the rear under Frankie Dettori, Papineau travelled beautifully throughout and crossed the line a length and a half ahead, in the process providing Godolphin with a fourth Gold Cup winner, following Classic Cliche and Kayf Tara.

That proved Papineau’s racing peak and he retired from the track 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 family hack.

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 his wonderful temperament was put to good use as he led out the yearlings each morning.

For two years running Papineau travelled to Deauville where he was the star 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 also took 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.

He has also undoubtedly been the star of the show during numerous Open Weekends where he was on show alongside other former Godolphin stars including Colour Vision, plus Dubai World Cup-winning duo African Story and Prince Bishop.

Papineau retired to Woodditton Stud, just outside Newmarket, where he was cared for by Stud Groom Geraldine Jones, whose daughter Megan fed him every day.

He was, however, not ready to fully retire to the paddocks and in recent years found himself a new role in equine assisted therapy.

He visited Newmarket Hospital and East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH) several times, events which had a profound impact on the people he met.

Hospital patients usually unwilling to go outside or interact eagerly awaited his arrival, and his presence not only brought a smile to their faces but led to new relationships being formed.

Papineau was incredibly intuitive with the youngsters at EACH, seeming to know he had to be gentle and provided some welcome relief during very difficult times for both the children and their families.

Just last month, Papineau’s work was recognised by Retraining of Racehorse as a finalist in their Community Impact Award.

Papineau remained in excellent health until very recently and once he was diagnosed with heart issues, the decision was made to put him to sleep.

Saeed bin Suroor said, "Papineau was a pleasure to train, and his Gold Cup win at Ascot was a very special day indeed. His achievements after his racing career are something that the whole team should be incredibly proud of."

Liam O’Rourke, Director of Stud, Stallions and Breeding said, "Papineau was a horse who did even more for others, both within and outside of our industry, in his retirement as he did throughout his career. He was much loved and will be much missed."