Who is Richard Hannon Snr.?

When he announced his retirement from the training ranks in November, 2013, Richard Hannon Snr. had just enjoyed his most successful season ever, numerically and financially, with 235 winners and over £4.5 million in prize money. In fact, his impressive seasonal tally not only made him Champion Trainer for the third time in four years, and the fourth time in all, but took his career total to 4,145 winners, thereby setting a record for the number of British winners for any trainer, Flat or Jumps.

Born on May 30, 1945, Hannon became a a trainer in his own right in 1970, when he took over the licence from his father, Harry, at a small, rented yard in East Everleigh on the edge of Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire. In an effort to expand his string, Hannon advertised for yearlings that had gone unsold at public auction. One of the horses he acquired in this way was Mon Fils, bred and owned by Brenda Davis, who won the 2,000 Guineas in 1973 at odds of 50/1. Hannon reportedly managed to secure 200/1 about the Sheshoon colt and used the proceeds of his winning bet – £35,000, or over £425,000 by modern standards – to fund the purchase of the East Everleigh yard.

Aside from Mon Fils, Hannon would win the 2,000 Guineas twice more, with Don’t Forget Me in 1987 and Tirol in 1990, and the 1,000 Guineas once, with Sky Lantern in 2013. He also saddled 32 winners at Royal Ascot, notably including Shalford and Bold Edge in the Cork and Orrery Stakes, now the Diamond Jubilee Stakes, in 1992 and 1999, respectively.

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.

Who is Aidan O’Brien?

Born on October 16, 1969 in County Wexford, Ireland, Aidan O’Brien has, since 1996, has been private trainer to Irish business magnate John Magnier at Ballydoyle Racing Stable, County Tipperary. Magnier is married to Susan O’Brien, daughter of Vincent O’Brien, co-founder of the Coolmore Stud breeding operation in 1975.

Prior to succeeding Vincent O’Brien as ‘Master of Ballydoyle’, Aidan O’Brien had, like his unrelated namesake, been a highly successful National Hunt trainer. In fact, he won Irish National Hunt trainers’ championship in Ireland five seasons running between 1993/94 and 1997/98 and famously trained Istabraq to three consecutive wins in the Champion Hurdle in 1998, 1999 and 2000.

By that stage of his career, O’Brien had already become the youngest-ever winner of the Irish Flat trainers’ championship, in 1997, and was well on his way to becoming the outstanding trainer of his generation. Indeed, he has been Irish champion trainer every year, bar one, since, and British champion trainer on six occasions, most recently in 2017.O’Brien is the leading trainer in the history of the 2,000 Guineas, with 10 wins, including three in a row between 2017 and 2019, courtesy of Churchill, Saxon Warrior and Magna Grecia. He is also, jointly, the leading trainer in the history of the Derby, with 7 wins, most recently with Anthony Van Dyck in 2019. In 2017, O’Brien trained 28 Group One or Grade One winners in a calendar year, thereby beating the previous record, 25, set by the late Bobby Frankel in 2003.

Who was Nat Flatman?

Elnathan ‘Nat’ Flatman, who died from consumption, or tuberculosis, at the age of 50, in 1860, had the distinction of being the first ‘official’ Champion flat jockey in Britain. In 1846, Flatman rode 81 winners to win his first officially recognised jockeys’ championship and remained Champion jockey until 1852, recording his best seasonal tally, 104, in 1848.

Flatman rode his first British Classic winner, Preserve, in the 1,000 Guineas – a race he would win twice more, on Clementina in 1847 and Imperieuse in 1857 – in 1835. That same year, Flatman was beaten just a neck on Ascot in the Derby, but he would not taste Classic success again until the 1844 Derby and, even then, only in controversial circumstances. The Derby ‘winner’, Running Rein, was subsequently discovered to be the ineligible four-year-old Maccabeus, who was disqualified in favour of Orlando, ridden by Flatman. All told, Flatman rode a total of ten British Classic winners, including the 2,000 Guineas in 1845, 1851 and 1856 and the St. Leger in 1848, 1856 and 1857.

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