Which are the most valuable races in Britain?

The most valuable horse races in Britain naturally include some of the most prestigious, and most coveted, contests on the horse racing calendar. Traditionally the fourth Classic of the season, the Derby Stakes, or Derby, for short, run over a mile-and-a-half at Epsom, is currently the most valuable horse race run in Britain, with a total prize money of £1.62 million. Elsewhere on the Flat, the Ebor Handicap, run over a mile-and-three-quarters at York, has received a massive boost in prize money since Sky Bet took over sponsorship of the race in 2018 and now has a total prize fund of £1 million; it is, in fact, the most valuable race of its kind, not only in Britain, but in the whole of Europe.

In 2020, two Group One races at Royal Ascot, namely the Prince of Wales’s Stakes, run over a mile-and-a-quarter, and the Diamond Jubilee Stakes, run over six furlongs, were due for an increase in prize money, to £1 million from £750,000 and £600,000, respectively. However, due to the coronavirus pandemic, prize money at the Royal Meeting was amended, such that all eight Group One races were run for £250,000.

Generally speaking, National Hunt racing is less lucrative than Flat racing, in terms of the prize money on offer. Nevertheless, while not quite on a par with the Derby, the Grand National, run over four miles and two-and-a-half furlongs at Aintree, offers total prize money of £1 million, making it the most valuable steeplechase run in Europe.

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.

Was William Buick ever Champion Apprentice?

Nowadays, Norwegian-born William Buick is, effectively, the principal jockey for Godolphin in Britain, following the demotion of James Doyle from his previous position as first-choice jockey to the longest-serving Godolphin trainer, Saeed Bin Suroor, in September, 2016. Buick was signed by Godolphin, alongside Doyle, in November, 2014, and rode the first Derby winner in the famous royal blue silks, Masar, trained by Charlie Appleby, in 2018.

Prior to his Godolphin appointment, Buick had previously been stable jockey to John Gosden, succeeding Jimmy Fortune in January, 2010. He famously won the Group One Dubai Sheema Classic in Meydan, United Arab Emirates on Dar Re Mi on just his fourth ride for his new employer.

Buick began his riding career in 2006, at which point he was apprenticed to Andrew Balding, based in Kingsclere, near Newbury, Berkshire. In his debut season, Buick rode just ten winners, but increased his seasonal tally to 67 in 2007 and, in 2008, was involved in a ding-dong battle with David Probert, also apprenticed to Balding, for the Apprentice Jockey Championship. After 95 winners, Buick lost his claim in May, 2008, thereby giving Probert the chance to catch him. Andrew Balding said at the time, ‘They are at different stages of their careers. They aren’t taking each other on.’ Nevertheless, the title was not decided until the final day of the season and eventually shared by Buick and Probert, with 50 winners apiece.

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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