The outstanding racehorse and sire, Grosvenor, has been euthanised yesterday at Fayette Park Stud at Tirau.
The rising 22-year-old stallion had developed severe osteomalitis and had been operated on two weeks ago in an effort to relive his pain. Sadly, these efforts proved unsuccessful.
Grosvenor was being readied for his 19th season at stud in New Zealand in 2001, each of these seasons being undertaken under the stewardship of David and Masey Benjamin.
“We have said goodbye to a great horse today, and to an even greater friend,” said Fayette Park proprietor David Benjamin. “Grosvenor was in many ways the dream stallion. He was independent, yet could be managed, and he delivered every season. He was very much part of our family, and we are all very, very sad to have had to take this decision today.”
Grosvenor was bred in 1979 by Pat Kelly with Justine Hogan of Cambridge Stud, being purchased as a yearling at Trentham for $40,000 by Victorian trainer Geoff Murphy.
As a racehorse Grosvenor had few peers. In Murphy’s colours, Grosvenor excelled as a juvenile, wining the G1 VRC Sires Produce Stakes and G3 STC Pago Pago Stakes. He also achieved top placings in the STC Golden Slipper (G1), the AJC Sires Produce Stakes (G1) and the VATC Blue Diamond Stakes (G1). Only Rancher and Marscay were rated above Grosvenor at the end of his Two-Year-Old career.
The following season Grosvenor matched his classic breeding with a classic win, scoring by a wide margin in the G1 VRC Derby from Cossack Prince and Veloso after heading home the same pair in the G1 VATC Caulfield Guineas. Earlier in his 3YO season Grosvenor had run second to Veloso in the G1 Spring Champion Stakes in Sydney. He tuned up for his VRC Derby win with a brave second to the great Kingston Town when he recorded his historic third W S Cox Plate win in 1982.
By Christmas of his 3YO season, a persistent fetlock injury signaled the end of Grosvenor’s racing days, however the colt was still rated just a half kilo below Strawberry Road on the Australasian 3YO Classification for the year. Grosvenor competed and excelled among a vintage crop of racehorses that included Rancher, Cossack Prince, Marscay, McGinty, Strawberry Road, Veloso and the great mare Emancipation.
Bidding interest for Grosvenor as a stallion was intense. A New Zealand syndicate, headed by David Benjamin and Ross Findlayson, emerged the winners when they secured the son of Sir Tristram for $2.2 million, starting his stud career at Fieldhouse Stud in Matamata. Their faith in the horse was quickly rewarded when Grosvenor emerged as not only the leading first season sire at the 1986 NZ National Yearling Sales but the leading First Season Sire with his first crop of 2YO’s in 1986-87.
Included in this crop was Grosvenor’s first classic winner, Omnicorp, plus his outstanding sprinting son, Westminister. Omnicorp emulated his sire by winning the VRC Derby, one of 17 individual classic winners sired by Grosvenor through his amazing career. Others included dual Oaks winner Domino, NZ Filly of the Year and Oaks winner Alacrity, VRC Oaks-1000 Guineas winner Richfield Lass and New Zealand Derby winner Look Who’s Talking.
Through his career Grosvenor sired 48 stakes winners (to date), 15 of which scored at Group One level. His 460-plus individual winners earned their owners in excess of $25 million. He has consistently appeared in the top bracket of Australian sires, finishing second in the 1991-92 season to Let’s Elope’s sire, Nassipour.
“Grosvenor produced horses very much in the mould of his own sire, Sir Tristram,” David Benjamin recounts. “While he could get exceptional sprinters like triple Group One winner Westminster, his stock and trade were staying horses, the very horses which have put New Zealand breeding on the international map over the years. Breeders always knew that having a foal by Grosvenor, they could look forward to a healthy yearling sale or a successful racing career. He was an incredibly intelligent horse with a huge personality. I a proud of his ontribution to our industry over the last two decades.”
Grosvenor has enjoyed some success through his sire sons but it appears his lasting influence is likely to come through his daughters. In the 1999-2000 season, Grosvenor was New Zealand’s Champion Broodmare Sire, capturing the same title his own sire Sir Tristram had taken the season before. Through his daughters and his racing stock still to come, the Classic Connection will live on.