The Waikato Stud veterinary team identified an issue with the stallion's liver just on a fortnight ago and despite receiving world-class treatment at both the Stud and then at Matamata Veterinary Services equine hospital, his condition deteriorated overnight and he passed away early on Sunday morning.
Bred and sold by Waikato Stud as a yearling, Sacred Falls won his first 6 races for trainer Tony Pike and Raffles Racing including the New Zealand 2000 Guineas (Group 1). Waikato Stud secured a share in the colt who then added 3 further victories at Group 1 level when trained by Chris Waller including back-to-back runnings of the Doncaster Handicap in 2013 and 2014.
A son of Waikato Stud's champion sire O'Reilly, Sacred Falls retired to the Matamata nursery in 2015. His oldest crop are now 3-year-olds and he has left 6 winners to date highlighted by the talented filly Shoshone.
Waikato Stud principal Mark Chittick was devastated with the loss of not only a potential world-class stallion but also a horse that held a special place in the hearts of the Chittick family.
"It's been a very tough morning for all the team here as he (Sacred Falls) has been such a cool horse to be involved with," Chittick said.
"He had a wonderful temperament and a really engaging personality and all the staff here just love him.
"He meant a lot to us all, especially as he had played such a big part in our lives during some very tough times."
Chittick was referring to both the loss of Sacred Fall's sire, O'Reilly and the passing of his first wife Lisa, who succumbed to leukaemia in May 2014.
"When Lisa was sick and receiving treatment, Sacred Falls brought plenty of joy for us when he won the Doncaster Handicap in 2013 and again in 2014," he said.
"When O'Reilly died, Sacred Falls had just arrived at the Stud so it was like the torch had been passed from father to son so he was a very special horse for us all.
"I have nothing but praise for our head vet, Dr Chris Phillips, his team and all the staff at Matamata Vet Services as they did everything in their power to try and save the horse but it just wasn't to be."
Sacred Falls will return home to Waikato Stud where he will be buried next to O'Reilly, with the Chittick family currently determining an appropriate tribute to their stallion.
A total of 42 yearlings by the emerging stallion will be offered at New Zealand Bloodstock's National Yearling Sales in late January, while his progeny sold up to NZ$260,000 at the recent Ready To Run Sale of 2YOs.