Dual Champion Chase hero Moscow Flyer dies at 22
Moscow Flyer: won the Champion Chase in 2003 and 2005
PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos) Dual Champion Chase hero Moscow Flyer dies By Andrew Dietz 1:16PM 21 OCT 2016
MOSCOW FLYER, who landed two editions of the Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival as well as a host of other top-level contests, has died at the age of 22.
The Jessica Harrington-trained superstar cemented his place among the all-time greats after dominating the 2m chase division with victories in the festival highlight in 2003 and 2005 and back-to-back successes in the Tingle Creek in 2003 and 2004.
The charismatic chaser, the first to wear the colours of owner Brian Kearney, had spent the last four years at the Irish National Stud, having been retired in 2006.
Harrington wrote on Twitter: “So sad to announce the passing of Moscow Flyer. He was a total legend and a horse of a lifetime. Thank you for all the memories.”
Brilliance and vulnerability
Moscow Flyer was not only an excellent racehorse but one who was fantastically consistent at his best, as his form figures show:
Moscow Flyer pictured in his retirement with trainer Jessica Harrington
PICTURE: Irish National Stud
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A fans’ favourite on both sides of the Irish Sea after winning a total of 13 Grade 1s during a glittering career, Moscow Flyer’s appeal was enhanced by the combination of his brilliance and vulnerability.
Remarkably, during a four-year spell between 2001 and 2005, he won all 20 of his completed chases but there were high-profile unseats along the way, including in the 2004 Champion Chase.
Moscow Flyer, who helped launch the career of jockey Barry Geraghty, retired with a record of 26 wins in 44 starts and amassed £1,167,892 in career prize-money.
Geraghty said: “It’s very sad news. He was a superstar, not just to me but to everyone.”
Bred by Edward Joyce in Ireland, the son of Moscow Society and Meelick Lady, achieved three top-flight successes over hurdles, starting in 1999 with the Royal Bond at Fairyhouse, the first time regular partner Geraghty was in the saddle, and followed by the Punchestown Champion Novice Hurdle and Leopardstown’s Shell Champion Hurdle.
However, it was over fences he scaled the greater heights and after overcoming a fall on his chase debut he won the Grade 1 Denny Gold Medal Novice Chase at Leopardstown before going on to the Cheltenham Festival in 2002 to land the Arkle by four lengths from Seebald.
After unshipping Geraghty in Sandown’s Tingle Creek he returned to Cheltenham to land his first Champion Chase, thumping Native Upmanship by seven lengths.
Moscow Flyer parading at Sandown in 2010
PICTURE: Edward Whitaker
Back for the Tingle Creek he vanquished new challenger Azertyuiop, only to unseat when defending his Champion Chase crown in 2004 as Paul Nicholls’ star profited but he responded with Grade 1 wins in the Melling Chase at Aintree and Punchestown’s Champion Chase.
He returned the following season to land a second Tingle Creek beating Azertyuiop and Well Chief with a thrilling display, which those closest to him regard as the pinnacle of his career.
He went on to regain his Champion Chase crown, posting a career high Racing Post Rating of 182 with a two-length defeat of Well Chief, and a magical season continued with another Melling Chase success, which proved to be his final victory.
Having finished fifth in the 2006 Champion Chase, Moscow Flyer was retired to the Irish Horse Welfare Trust before being relocated to the Irish National Stud where he joined other greats such as Kicking King, Beef Or Salmon and Hardy Eustace.
In the first year of retirement, he added another victory to his 26 wins under rules when ridden by Harrington’s daughter Kate in a charity race at the Punchestown Festival, after which he was afforded a rousing reception in the winner’s enclosure for one last time.
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