Go Ballistic, runner-up to See More Business in the 1999 Cheltenham Gold Cup, has died after his latest bout of colic.
Owner Sheila Lockhart described the 23-year-old as “one in a million”.
Winner of nine of his 57 career starts and in the top three on a further 15 occasions, Go Ballistic amassed £246,505 in win and place prizemoney in a 10-season career.
Lockhart said: “I've always known he didn't belong to me, I was merely the guardian, he was the public's horse. I owe so much to so many people. He cheated death a few times and I want to thank anyone who has had anything to do with him, they have brought me a lot of joy over the years.
“I was so lucky to find him. I told my friend Mary Evans, who is Evan Williams' mother, that I was looking for a horse and she said she knew one. I got him from Peter Bowen for £6,000 and he turned out to be a fantastic buy.
“He had more trainers than I've had boyfriends but that's because I knew too much about him and I wouldn't stand back quietly because I knew him inside out and understood all his problems, so he moved trainers a bit.
“He had rotten feet, bad wind and terrible experiences with colic, but he was a fantastic animal and so gutsy. When he was able to put his feet on the ground and breathe he was always going to win.”
Trained by David Nicholson when runner-up to See More Business in the Gold Cup, Go Ballistic also had time under the care of John O'Shea, Alan King, Henrietta Knight and Richard Phillips.
He spent his years after racing at Batsford Stud in Gloucestershire and stud owner Alan Varey said: “It's very sad. He has had two operations for colic over the years and survived, but this time he has succumbed.
“My son Tim used to take him out hunting and he often attended parades. People really had a fondness for him and he gave Sheila some fantastic days when he was racing.
“He used to go out in the paddock and was a brilliant minder for the young horses. He was a wonderful old boy.”