One of New Zealand's greatest thoroughbred stallions, Volksraad, has been put down.
Volksraad was just a few days off his 24th birthday when he broke his shoulder in a paddock accident at Cambridge's Windsor Park on Tuesday.
"He's been such a grand old stallion for us that we decided to give him the best possible send off we could," said part owner and one of the Windsor Park executives, Steve Till at Ellerslie races yesterday.
Windsor Park has been home to some magnificent stallions such as Montjeu, Gold Brose and High Chaparral, but Volksraad was master of the hill.
"He was 4 when we bought him at the Tatts sale in England in 1993," said Steve Till.
"He was 5 when he arrived in New Zealand."
Volksraad was to go to work and win eight stallion premierships, a modern-day New Zealand record.
The ownership partnership was Steve Till, Mapperley Stud, Windsor Park and Irish stud manager Pat Connell.
Connell returned to Ireland and the other three partners bought his share, originally standing him at Mapperley and since 1999 at Windsor Park.
Volksraad's longevity has been remarkable. His first group one winner was Dantelah and only one month ago another son, Distill, became a group one winner, lifting the Levin Classic.
One of his better known and most popular sons is the grand old multiple group one winner Sir Slick, who has stakes of more than $2 million.
"It's been a fantastic journey," said Till.
"He has so far sired 58 stakes [winners]. When a stallion sires 15 stakes winners they've hit the big time."
Volksraad's group one winners were successful from between 1100m and 3200m.
He was also known for his grumpy nature, throwing a number of staff members, who injured limbs, around his paddock.
"That was really about his dominant personality. He was the boss and he wanted everyone to know it.
"It certainly wasn't hereditary - his horses are the most laid-back you could imagine." Volksraad's dynasty is not yet finished. He has yearlings going to the sales early next year, has foals on the ground and a good band of broodmares are in foal to him from this last stud season.
For all his elder statesman status, Volksraad couldn't claim to be the trump.
Remarkable stallion Zabeel, on the other side of the Waikato River at Cambridge Stud, is 25 and still going.
"And his sire Sir Tristram was 26 when he died and he broke his shoulder as well," said owner Sir Patrick Hogan at Ellerslie yesterday.
* It would not have been proper if a Volksraad horse hadn't won at Ellerslie yesterday.
The Andrew Clarkson and Mike Moroney-trained Kiwi Spirit won in typical Volksraad style, chasing down the leader First Response and winning by a nose.By Mike Dillon Email Mike