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.
Dubai-born Saeed bin Suroor has been associated with Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, founder of Godolphin, since 1992. He was officially appointed Godolphin trainer in 1995 and made an immediate impact, winning the first three of his twelve British Classics, the Derby, Oaks and St. Leger, with Lammtarra, Moonshell and Classic Cliche, respectively. Indeed, Lammtarra also won the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes at Ascot and the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp and was named Cartier Champion Three-year-old Colt.
Lammtarra was retired to Dalham Hall Stud, Newmarket at the end of his three-year-old campaign, but the following year, 1996, bin Suroor won another British Classic, the 2,000 Guineas, with Mark Of Esteem, who also won the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot later in the year. All told that season, bin Suroor saddled just 48 winners, but a host of high-profile victories, including in the Coral-Eclipse and Juddmonte International with Halling and the Racing Post Trophy with Medaaly, yielded £1.96 million in prize money. In only his second year in charge, he became Champion Trainer for the first time and would win the trainers’ title again in 1988, 1999 and 2004.
Nowadays, the longest-serving Godolphin trainer splits his year between Al Quoz Stables in Dubai and Godolphin Stables, formerly Stanley House Stables, in Newmarket. Indeed, he has enjoyed spectactular success in one of the most prestigious and valuable races in the the world, the Dubai World Cup at Meydan, winning nine times between 1999 and 2019.
Having narrowly missed out on the Flat Jockeys’ Championship, 165-161, to Paul Hanagan in 2011,
Brazilian-born Silvestre De Sousa was announced as a retained jockey for Godolphin in February, 2012. De Sousa had apparently impressed Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, founder of Godolphin, and his racing manager, Simon Crisford, while riding for North Yorkshire trainer Mark Johnston the previous season.
De Sousa relocated to Newmarket to ride alongside stable jockey Lanfranco ‘Frankie’ Dettori and, when Dettori announced his decision to ride on a freelance basis in 2013, became prinicipal jockey to Saeed Bin Suroor at Godolphin Stables. However, by May, 2014, the writing was on the wall for De Sousa as Bin Suroor switched his affiliation to veteran jockey Kieran Fallon, 49, of whom he said, ‘ I’m happy to give him a chance in all the big races’. Bin Suroor proved true to his word and the following November, when William Buick and James Doyle were appointed Goldolphin jockeys, De Sousa lost his retainer altogether.
Nevertheless, De Sousa bounced back from his sacking by Goldolphin in no uncertain terms. He won the Flat Jockeys’ Championship for the first time in 2015, with 132 winners, finished runner-up to Jim Crowley in 2016, with 148 winners, and won the jockeys’ title again in both 2017 and 2018, with 155 and 148 winners, respectively.