THE legacy will stand the test of time as well as the famous landmark that he was named after. On the track and off it, Rock of Gibraltar will forever be infamous as well as famous.

Racing fans would marvel at his majesty and will mourn his passing. For supporters of Manchester United, the former 2000 Guineas winner and fabled sire evokes contrasting memories and the fate and future of their club would have been very different had it not been for one of sports most controversial legal battles.

Rock of Gibraltar was owned by Sir Alex Ferguson and Sue Magnier, wife of then Old Trafford shareholder John Magnier, but the friendship soured upon the horse's retirement in 2003. A multi-million pound career in breeding awaited and Ferguson believed he was due a cut of the fees his prized possession would make in the years that followed.

The Coolmore operation run by Magnier disputed that fact and a chain of events that resulted in the breakdown of their relationship was put into motion. Unbeknown to United fans, it would ultimately end in the takeover of the club by the Glazer family.

Ferguson had to appeal to supporters not to disrupt the Cheltenham Festival in 2004, calling the event the 'equivalent of the FA Cup final to horse racing fans' as he pleaded for calm despite the brewing legal storm that would result in a reported £2.5million court settlement for the legendary boss.

Just a year later, Magnier and JP McManus sold their 28.89 per cent stake in United to Malcolm Glazer after raising concerns over the running of the club. It was a move that would lead to the American eventually purchasing a controlling interest at Old Trafford.

The rest, as they say, is history and it could all have been very different at Old Trafford. The name Rock of Gibraltar will always have a place in the annuls of sporting folklore.