Elsu dies at age 23 - "we were privileged to have him in our lives"

After earning more than two million dollars on the track, and a decade at stud, Elsu has died, at age 23.

Alabar Stud says the one-time superstar pacer was diagnosed with heart disease and had to be humanely euthanized after taking a sudden health turn at Alabar in Pukekohe today.

“Elsu was a part of the family here at Alabar NZ. He was such an amazing horse and we were privileged to have him in our lives,” says Alabar's Graeme Henley.

Knee problems ultimately shortened Elsu’s racing career but by the time he headed off to stud in 2005 he had won 27 races, from 47 starts, earning more than $2.1m. He won 11 Group 1s.

Headlining what was an outstanding CV was his "breathtaking" win in the 2005 Hunter Cup.

Trained by Geoff Small and driven by David Butcher, he overcame a 20 metre handicap, only to be three wide without cover for the last lap and then destroy a top class field in Australia’s most prestigious standing start race.

Calling the race Dan Mielicki could barely contain himself at the finish, saying that Elsu has “got to be the best horse in the Southern Hemisphere” and that he was “a star”.

“What a win in the Hunter Cup – one of the best ever”

It was a defining moment for a horse that won two Auckland Cups and was twice voted New Zealand Horse of the Year. He was also the first New Zealand horse to earn over two million dollars and had a clean sweep of the 2005 Interdominions, going through the heats and final unbeaten.

According to David Butcher : “Elsu is a horse that makes me look good”.

Elsu retired to stud in 2005 and while he wasn't as successful as a stallion as he had been a racehorse he still sired 529 winners, amassing more than $22m in stakes.

In all he served 1158 mares in this country from 2006 - 2017, including a career high 211 in 2010.

Among his progeny were God Forbid (12 wins), Stormy Sirocco (11 wins), Anvil's Best Ever (7 wins) and Miss Elsie (7 wins).

He sired the winners of 723 races (688 pacing, 35 trotting) and nearly $6m in total stakes in New Zealand.

After retiring from stud duty in 2017, Elsu took up a role as guardian of the weanlings at Alabar, a role in which he took great pride in.

"Elsu will be greatly missed by everyone," says Henley.

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