What is Shadwell Racing?

Shadwell Racing is the horse racing business of Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, deputy tuler of Dubai and brother of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, ruler of Dubai and founder of Godolpin. Sheikh Hamdan developed an interest in horse racing while studying at the Bell School of Languages in Cambridge in the late Sixties and his now familiar blue and white colours were first carried on a British racecourse in 1980.

Four years later, in 1984, Sheikh Hamdan purchased the 6,000-acre Shadwell Estate in Thetford, Norfolk which, following the construction of the Nunnery Stud, in 1987, would become the British base for one of the most highly regarded horse racing and bloodstock operations in the world. In the intervening three decades or so, Sheikh Hamdan has invested heavily in both aspects of the business and the Nunnery Stud has been home to illustrious racehorses and stallions alike.

Indeed, even in the face of formidable competition from the likes of Coolmore and Godolphin, to name but two, Sheikh Hamdan has been Champion Owner in Britain six times, most recently in 2014. Notable runners over the years have included 2000 Guineas, Derby, Coral-Eclipse Stakes and King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes in 1989 and Dayjur, dubbed ‘the world’s fastest horse after winning the King’s Stand Stakes’, Nunthorpe Stakes, Ladbroke Sprint Cup and Prix de l’Abbaye de Longchamp in 1990. Much more recently, Baataash has continued to fly the flag for Sheikh Hamdan, winning the Prixe de l’Abbaye de Longchamp in 2017, Numthorpe Stakes in 2019 and King’s Stand Stakes in 2020, among other high-profile races.

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.

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