Sir Henry Cecil The late Sir Henry Richard Amherst Cecil, who died in June, 2013, at the age of 70 after battling cancer for the last six years of his life, is one of the few racehorse trainers who can, justifiably, be mentioned in the same breath as his erstwhile father-in-law, Sir Noel Murless After four years as assistant trainer to Murless, took charge of Freemason Lodge Stables in Newmarket on the retirement of royal trainer Sir Cecil Boyd Rochford in 1968 and, on Murless’ own retirement in 1976, moved to Warren Place, also in Newmarket.


Cecil became Champion Trainer in his first year at Warren Place, thanks in no small part to the exploits of Wollow, who won the 2,000 Guineas, the Coral-Eclipse Stakes, the Sussex Stakes and the Juddmonte International Stakes. He won the trainers’ title again in 1978 and 1979, the highlights of the latter year including a notable treble for Kris in the St. James’s Palace Stakes, the Sussex Stakes and the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes.


Cecil was Champion Trainer five more times in the 1980s, famously saddling his first Derby winner, Slip Anchor, in 1985 and his second, Reference Point, in 1987. Of course, 1985 was also the year in which Oh So Sharp won the 1,000 Guineas, the Oaks and the St. Leger to become the first filly since Meld, in 1955, to win the Fillies’ Triple Crown.


Cecil continued, at the peak of his powers, into the 1990s, becoming Champion Trainer again in 1990, with 111 winners and £1.93 million in prize money, and again in 1993, with 94 winners – including his third Derby winner, Commander In Chief – and £1.8 million in prize money. In 1995, Cecil had very public falling-out with Sheikh Mohammed, the leading racehorse owner in the world, culminating in the removal of 40 horses from his care and, after 14 years, bringing to an end one of the most successful owner-trainer partnerships in the history of horse racing. Cecil never won the trainers’ title again.

Aidan O’Brien Aidan Patrick O’Brien first took out a public training licence on June 7, 1993 and had the distinction of saddling his first winner, Wandering Thoughts, in a 7-furlong handicap at Tralee the same afternoon. Appointed as trainer at Ballydoyle, near Cashel, Co. Tipperary in 1996, as the successor to Michael Vincent O’Brien – whose son-in-law, John Magnier, now owns Ballydoyle and its sister thoroughbred facility, Coolmore Stud – Aidan O’Brien became the youngest ever British Champion Trainer in 2001, having turned 32 in October that year.


The highlight of that year was his first win in the Derby, with Galileo, who also won the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, but O’Brien also saddled Imagine to win the Oaks and Milan to win the St. Leger in a season in which his 20 winners from 99 runners on this side of the Irish Sea yielded £3.39 million in prize money. The following season, in which he was Champion Trainer again, O’Brien only saddled ten winners in Britain, but they included Rock Of Gibraltar, in the 2,000 Guineas, the St. James’s Palace Stakes and the Sussex Stakes, High Chaparral in the Derby and Hawk Wing in the Coral-Eclipse.


Having quickly become the pre-eminent force in Ireland – where, in fact, he’s been Champion Trainer every year since 1999 – has since been crowned Champion Trainer in Britain four more times, in 2007, 2008, 2016 and 2017. In 2008, Henrythenavigator followed in the footsteps of Rock Of Gibraltar by winning the 2,000 Guineas, the St. James’s Palace Stakes and the Sussex Stakes, while Duke Of Marmalade also completed a notable treble in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes, the King George and Queen Elizabeth Stakes and the Juddmonte International Stakes.


However, it was in the latter years that O’Brien excelled himself, even by his own exemplary standards. In 2016, his 28 winners in Britain – including Minding, who won the 1,000 Guineas, the Oaks, the Nassau Stakes and the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes – yielded a record £8.31 million in prize money, more than double that amassed by his two nearest pursuers, John Gosden and Richard Fahey, put together. It was a similar story in 2017, with his 32 winners – including Winter in the 1,000 Guineas, Churchill in the 2,000 Guineas, Wings Of Eagles in the Derby and Capri in the St. Leger, to name but four – yielding £8.34 million in prize money.

Richard Hannon Snr. Richard Hannon Snr. officially retired from the training ranks in November, 2013 after a distinguished career lasting forty-three years. In fact, until his record of 4,193 winners was beaten by Mark Johnston in August, 2018, he was the most prolific trainer in the history of British horse racing.


Hannon Snr. began training, in his own right, in 1970, having taken over the licence at East Eveleigh Stables, near Marlborough, Wiltshire on the retirement of his father Henry “Harry” Hannon. He trained his first British Classic winner, Mon Fils, ridden by Frankie Durr, in the 2,000 Guineas and would win the first colts’ Classic twice more, with Don’t Forget Me in 1987 and Tirol in 1990, before becoming Champion Trainer for the first time in 1992.


That season, he saddled two domestic Group 1 winners, Mr. Brooks, who later won the Grosser Preis Von Berlin and the Prix de l’Abbaye de Longchamp, in the July Cup at Newmarket and Lyric Fantasy, who was completing a five-timer, in the Nunthorpe Stakes at York. Other highlights that year included victories for Beyton in the King Edward VII Stakes, Shalford in the Cork and Orrery Stakes and Niche in the Norfolk Stakes, all at Royal Ascot. Along with Lyric Fantasy, who won the Queen Mary Stakes, they gave him a total of four winners at the Royal meeting.


Hannon Snr. didn’t become Champion Trainer again for another eighteen years, but saved his best ‘til last, saddling over two hundred winners in each of his last four seasons as a trainer and taking the trainers’ title in 2010, 2012 and 2013 with seasonal prize money totals of £3.22 million, £2.82 million and £4.53 million, respectively. Domestically, Highlights of his ‘Indian summer’ included winning the Lockinge Stakes with Paco Boy and the St. James’s Palace Stakes and the Sussex Stakes with Canford Cliffs in 2010, and the 1,000 Guineas, the Coronation Stakes and the Sun Chariot Stakes with Sky Lantern, the Sussex Stakes (again) with Toronado and the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes with Olympic Glory in 2013.

Richard Hannon Jnr Richard Hannon Jnr. – who, in fact, is one of triplets – is, of course, the son of four-time Champion Trainer Richard Hannon Snr. and took over the training licence at Herridge and Everleigh Stables near Marlborough, Wiltshire following the retirement of his father at the end of the 2013 season. Having spent twelve years as assistant to his father, one of the most successful trainers in the country, Hannon Jnr. wasted little time in making his own mark on the training ranks.


His first runner as a licensed trainer in his own right, Unscripted, won a lowly median auction maiden stakes race at Wolverhampton by 10 lengths on January 3, 2014, and by the end of the year Hannon Jnr. had saddled 206 winners and earned £4.75 million in prize money to become Champion Trainer at the first attempt. His first major prizes of the season came on consecutive days in April, courtesy of Shifting Power in the European Free Handicap and Toormore in the Craven Stakes, both on the Rowley Mile Course at Newmarket. Toormore subsequently ran in the 2,000 Guineas, but weakened in the closing stages to finish seventh, beaten 4¼ lengths, behind unfancied stablemate Night Of Thunder, who thus provide Hannon Jnr. with his first British Classic winner.


Further success at the highest level followed, with victories for Olympic Glory in the Lockinge Stakes at Newbury, Toronado in the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot and Tiggy Wiggy in the Cheveley Park Stakes at Newmarket. In fact, the latter won six of her eight starts as a juvenile to become Cartier Champion Two-Year-Old Filly. In a stellar first season for Hannon Jnr., other money-spinners for the yard included the two-year-old colts, Beacon, who won four races, including the Flying Childers Stakes at Doncaster, and Baitha Alga, who won three races, including the Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot. Later, reflecting on the transition between father and son, Hannon Jnr. said, “My father is still the only man in the world I am frightened of. I think that is only right.”