Legendary cross-country champion Risk Of Thunder dies aged 27

The horse, owned by actor Sean Connery, won seven Punchestown La Touche Cup races

Risk of thunder, horse racing, Ireland,

Image: © INPHO/Keith Heneghan

Legendary cross-country champion Risk Of Thunder has died at the age of 27.

Credited with reinvigorating cross-country racing, the Strong Gale gelding won seven Punchestown La Touche Cup races between 1995 and 2002.

The tally could have been eight, only for the abandonment of the 2001 Punchestown Festival. Risk of Thunder scored 13 wins and was placed eight times in his 39 starts on the track, and retired in 2002, seeing out the remainder of his days at J.P. McManus’ Martinstown Stud, with the great Istabraq as his companion.

Trainer Enda Bolger spoke fondly of the horse he spent so much time with, saying "he was a very special horse. Myself, Philip Fenton, Ken Whelan and J.T. McNamara all agree that he was undoubtedly the best banks jumper any of us had ever sat on. He was my last winner as I retired after the 1999 La Touche.

"With his unbeaten run and the fact that he had such a high profile owner in actor Sean Connery, I think it’s fair to say that Risk Of Thunder probably brought a new lease of life to the cross-country game”.

Punchestown host an annual Risk Of Thunder cross-country steeplechase each November in honour of the former champion.