There are sires, great sires and super sires. And then there was Danehill, the prodigious stallion whose life was a never-ending update of record-breaking accomplishments. The great horse was mercifully euthanised at 17 years of age in Ireland on Tuesday, after injuring a hind leg beyond repair in an unexplained paddock accident. Despite his advancing years, Danehill was still in great health and could reasonably have been expected to work for another six or more years. His value, calculated at three times annual earning power, was an estimated $600 million. Twenty years ago, only one stallion, the great Nasrullah, had ever sired more than 100 individual stakes winners. Today, Danehill stands second on the all-time list, with 212 stakes-winning sons or daughters which are sure to be added to significantly in the next few years, with hundreds of his unraced or unborn progeny still to come. Only his Coolmore 'stablemate', Sadler's Wells (214) has sired more. Just two years ago, Kentucky-based Mr Prospector held the world record of siring 44 individual Group One winners. It was passed by New Zealand's Sir Tristram, who in turn was collared by Sadler's Wells. Today, Danehill is king with 54. Danehill's last opportunity to showcase his phenomenal prepotence occurred on Sunday, with sons Clodovil and Catcher In The Rye finishing first and second in the French 2000 Guineas at Longchamp. It was a back-to-back Danehill quinella in the French classic, as Rock of Gibraltar and Landseer gave him the 1-2 last year. Andre Fabre, the perennial champion trainer of France, described Danehill as 'the best stallion in the world today'. John Messara, the Australian breeder who originally chased Danehill down as a stallion prospect in 1989, said: 'He's more than a phenomenon, he's a breed shaper.' Danehill had an advantage over Nasrullah and most other famous sires in that he served two seasons each year, covering 100-plus mares at Coolmore Stud in County Tipperary, Ireland, before jetting Down Under where a similar harem awaited at Coolmore's Australian division. But his potency - the ability to reliably and regularly produce thoroughbreds even better than himself - stamped him as one of the all-time greats of the breed. Breeding buffs will say Danehill's 'secret' was in his pedigree, that he was closely inbred to Natalma, the dam of fabled stallion Northern Dancer. That may be right, but it doesn't explain why Danehill's brother, Eagle Eyed, was a total dud who now plies his trade in obscurity in Turkey. Danehill was at the top of the quality pyramid in every sense. He gave fair warning with his first Australian crop, with Danzero winning the world's richest juvenile race, the Golden Slipper Stakes, and the Hong Kong-owned Danewin taking the Group One AJC Champagne Stakes, making him champion juvenile sire for the first time. Danehill progeny have gone on to dominate the Australian classics. But it has been as a sire of two-year-olds that he's been in a league of his own. Danehill's sons and daughters have won the Golden Slipper five times, making him the equal of fabled sire Star Kingdom. He has taken the Australian Juvenile Champion Sire's title six times, and the European equivalent four times. The official stats, gleaned through USA bloodstock databases, show Danehill has sired 13 recognised champions from 11 crops of racing age. He has sired 134 Group or Graded stakes winners and through to May 12, his 1,406 starters have earned US$141,081,210. The great horse's leading runner came late in his career, with Rock Of Gibraltar, owned by Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, winning a record seven consecutive Group One events before finishing second in the Breeders' Cup Mile at Arlington Park last October. The Rock was unchallenged as Europe's Horse of the Year for 2002. However, Danehill's all-time leading prizemoney earner is none other than Hong Kong's two-time Horse of the Year, Fairy King Prawn, an Australian-bred who earned the equivalent of US$4,601,520 before his belated retirement in February. Danehill's legacy will be felt for many years to come, if not forever, because he is fast becoming the rarest commodity in the thoroughbred world - a sire of sires. Sons of Danehill doing well at stud include his Golden Slipper winning sons, Danzero and Flying Spur (sire of Firebolt), Danewin (sire of Elegant Fashion), Danehill Dancer, Desert King and Danasinga. But another 40 or more Danehill stallions are now on the production line, including Rock Of Gibraltar and Europe's champion sprinter of 2001, Mozart. Already, the Danehill story is a long one. But it gives every indication of also being an enduring one.