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.