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.

Who is John Gosden?

Born in Lewes, East Sussex on March 30, 1951, John Gosden is the son of John ‘Towser’ Gosden and worked as assistant trainer to Vincent O’Brien, Sir Noel Murless and Andrew ‘Tommy’ Doyle, in California, before taking out a training licence in his own right in 1979. In 1983, Gosden saddled what he later described as his ‘first big winner’, Bates Motel, in the Grade One Santa Anita Handicap at Santa Anita Park and a year later won the inaugural Breeders’ Cup Mile at the now demolished Hollywood Park with Royal Heroine. All told, he trained over 500 winners in the United States before returning to Britain, to train at Stanley House Stables, now Godolphin Stables, in Newmarket in 1989.

Gosden saddled his first British Classic winner, Shantou, in the St. Leger in 1996 and his second, Benny The Dip, in the Derby the following year. In 2000, Gosden moved to Manton, near Marlbrough, Wiltshire and immediately enjoyed further Classic success, winning the 2,000 Guineas with Lahan. However, the bulk of his Classic winners, which currently number eleven, were trained at his current base, Clarehaven Stables on the Bury Road in Newmarket, to which he moved in 2006.

Overall, Gosden has won the St. Leger five times, the Oaks three times, the Derby twice and the 1,000 Guineas once. The 2,000 Guineas remains elusive but, with over 3,500 winners, including over 100 at the highest Group One or Grade One level, to his name worldwide, he is undeniably one of the most successful trainers of his, or any other, generation.

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