Who was John Dunlop?

John Dunlop, who retired from the training ranks at the end of the 2012 Flat season and died in July, 2018, at the age of 78, after a long illness, was a doyen of British horse racing for nearly half a century. Born in Tetbury, Gloucestershire on July 10, 1939, Dunlop became assistant trainer to Gordon Smyth at Castle Stables in Arundel, West Sussex in 1963. Two years later, in 1965, Smyth moved to Heath House Stables in Lewes, East Sussex, on the retirement of John ‘Towser’ Gosden and Dunlop took over the licence as private trainer to Bernard Fitzalan-Howard,16th Duke of Norfolk, and his wife, Lavinia.

Dunlop had the distinction of saddling Hatta, the first British winner in the now familiar maroon and white silks of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, at Brighton in 1977. In 1983, he also saddled British Horse of the Year Habibti to win the July Cup, William Hill Sprint Championship, Vernons Sprint Cup and Prix de l’Abbaye de Longchamp. Dunlop was Champion Trainer just once, in 1995, but, at the peak of his powers, had over 200 horses in his charge. All told, he trained over 3,500 winners, including ten British Classic winners. He never won the 2,000 Guineas, but won the 1,000 Guineas and the St. Leger three times apiece and the Derby and the Oaks twice apiece. Habibiti aside, arguably the best horse he ever trained was Shirley Heights, winner of the Derby and the Irish Derby in 1978.

What Influences the Price of a Racecourse?

Buying a racehorse needs more than just the capital as you also need to know the risks and limitations upon buying one, especially with thoroughbreds. More than purchasing, you also have to break into the ownership of having a racehorse and it takes a lot of planning and research before even paying for your favorite new horse.

In general, some horses ranging from free to steeds can cost $100,000 (and beyond), while some riders can find a healthy trail horse for less than $5,000. Many factors affect a racehorse’s prices, but the most common ones are age, gender, pedigree, black-type, conformation, market factors, and a nomination for restricted races. How much money was earned by the horse’s parents is also a key factor in a horse’s valuation as that’s how the world of horse racing betting works.


The bloodline, or breeding, plays a significant role in horse prices, like Quarter Horse breeds, Paints, and Warmbloods. Like Galileo, the most expensive one, top stallion breeds have had private listing since 2008, but reports suggest that its figure has been almost $700,000 to stud. Meanwhile, the most costly American horse, Tapit, charges a $300,000 fee to stud, making nearly $12.6 million earnings a year. These horses would generally cost higher than the typical breeds.

Group Races

Thoroughbred horse racing has a category for the highest level competitions called pattern races, graded races, or group races. Including the world’s most iconic races (i.e., Melbourne Cup, Irish Derby, Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, Breeders’ Cup, Kentucky Derby). Horses that won in these races are exceptional and have determined stud values, referred to as Black-type races. A horse’s price will increase depending on its time and experiences in the show ring, so expect a price increase for any winners.

Nomination or registration for restricted races depends on the meeting’s requirements. Horses qualified under these categories are expensive as they have a better potential for profits. The expected investment return is 521% for the Breeders’ Cup, 590% for the Maryland Million, and 2,590 for a Maryland-bred registrant. However, the horse’s pedigree could also affect the price and returns.


A racehorse price might also depend on the nature of its training and its trainer’s expertise. Expect that the breadth and depth of the training that the horse received will affect the cost. The seller might also conform to the average market price, the health condition, and even the reason for selling. A horse with minor injuries and health issues may come at a significantly minimized price, but you must still have it examined by a veterinarian.


The first factor that majorly affects thoroughbred pricing is the age of the horse. Although the prime age for a horse is typically between seven to fourteen years old, you still must not rule out an older horse as some of them are even more capable and more experienced than the younger ones. Horses approaching and into their 10s typically have much lesser worth, but they might become more effective as a racehorse if they have good breeding and healthy conditions of living and training.

Mare, Stallion, or Gelding

In the middle of a race track, it is hard to distinguish whether a racehorse is a male or female or even a gelding, making people assume that all thoroughbreds are male. However, racehorses can be either mare (female horses) or sire (male horses), where mares competing against male counterparts often win. Male horses can also be more expensive as mares that don’t have the same earning potential. Mares only have an eleven-month gestation period upon retirement. Meanwhile, fillies (female horses aging four years or younger) might be more expensive at some time, especially if they received racehorse training and experiences.

Supply & Demand

On the other hand, a horse price may decrease or increase depending on the latest market demand and supply. If the seller is in a hurry, you can expect lower horse prices or more bargaining chances. If the horse on sale has been long overdue, its price may decrease over time due to low demands. However, some sellers could have a firm price as they might not mind waiting for the right buyer.

Buying a racehorse depends on your hobby, ambition, and how much your budget is. With the frequently changing market of racehorse online, it is important to know the right valuation for your horse or a horse you want to own.

Can a horse race be declared void?

A ‘void’ horse race is one that is, officially, judged not to have taken place; no official result is recorded, no prize money is awarded and all bets are cancelled. Perhaps the most famous void race of all time was 1993 Grand National, later dubbed ‘The Race That Never Was’, in which the majority of the jockeys failed to pull up after a second false start and seven horses completed the four-and-a-half mile race.

Generally speaking, any National Hunt race, over hurdles or fences, can be deemed void if all of the horses fail to finish; since November, 2009, the remounting of horses has been banned by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA), increasing the likelihood of this scenario. A race can also be deemed void if the whole field takes the wrong course or in the event of a serious incident, such a stricken horse lying on the course in a position where it cannot be safely bypassed. In the latter case, ground staff display a yellow ‘stop-race’ flag, which indicates to jockeys that they must stop riding and the race must be declared void.

Historically, a race that started before its advertised time was declared void but, although this is no longer the case, modern horse racing is still subject to all kinds of imponderables which, while hardly run-of-the-mill, can cause a race to be deemed void. Examples include, but are by no means limited to, malfunctioning floodlights or stalls and spectator interference.

Is Champ entered for the 2021 Cheltenham Gold Cup?

The simple answer is ‘yes’; at the time of writing, Champ is one of 41 horses remaining in the 2021 Cheltenham Gold Cup at the latest declaration stage. Indeed, despite his relative inexperience over fences, the King’s Theatre gelding is currently 10/1 joint-second favourite for the Gold Cup, alongside Minella Indo, whom he collared close home when winning the RSA Insurance Novices’ Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in 2020.

A dual Grade One winner over hurdles, Champ won his first two starts over the larger obstacles and, although falling in the Dipper Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham in January, 2020, regained the winning thread on his return to Prestbury Park two months later. Now a nine-year-old, Champ has not been seen in public since, with a wind operation in the autumn of 2020 delaying his return to competitive action.

Originally, the Grade One Savills Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas was mooted as a possible starting point for the 2020/21 season, but trainer Nicky Henderson decided that the Grade Two Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham in late January – which he won with subsequent Gold Cup runner-up Santini in 2020 – would present a less arduous task for Champ after his lengthy absence. Henderson has described Champ as ‘very, very good’ and, while he admits that there is room for improvement in his jumping, two Grade One wins over an extended three miles on soft going suggest that the Gold Cup distance is well within his compass and he remains an exciting prospect.

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