Thursday 23 November 2017


Shergar, bred and owned by Prince Shah Karim Al Hussaini, Aga Khan IV, and trained by Michael Stoute, is best known for winning the 1981 Derby by an unprecedented 10 lengths, the longest winning margin in the history of the race. Having won the Sandown Classic Trial by 10 lengths and the Chester Vase by 12 lengths, Shergar started 10/11 favourite for the Epsom Classic – only the third horse since World War II to be sent off at odds-on – but, having taken up the running at Tattenham Corner, travelling sweetly, went further and further clear to win with ridiculous ease. An incredulous Peter Bromley exclaimed, with over a furlong to run, “There’s only horse in it! You need a telescope to see the rest.”

Shergar subsequently won the Irish Derby at the Curragh by 4 lengths, “in an exercise canter” and the King George & Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes at Ascot by the same margin, “in tremendous style”. He finished his racing career on a low note, finishing only fourth in the St. Leger behind 28/1 outsider Cut Above, whom he’d previously beaten comprehensively in the Irish Derby. Nevertheless, at the end of his career Shergar had earned £436,000 in total prize money and a Timeform rating of 140, the equivalent of that subsequently awarded to the likes of Dancing Brave and Sea The Stars. The late Walter Swinburn, who rode Shergar in the Derby, said of him, “He was the best I rode by a country mile. Most horses have strengths and weaknesses. In his case there were none.”

Shergar, valued at £10 million, retired to the Ballymany Stud in Co. Kildare but, before his second season as a stallion, in 1983, he was kidnapped by masked gunmen in the middle of the night and never seen again. The general consensus is that he was abducted, and killed, by the Irish Republic Army (IRA), although the organisation never officially claimed responsibility for his disappearance and his body was never found.

Wednesday 15 November 2017

Ed Dunlop

Edward A.L. Dunlop is a British thoroughbred racehorse trainer, whose wins include the Ascot Gold Cup, the Epsom Oaks twice and the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Ascot. 

The son of British champion trainer John Dunlop, Ed grew up at his father’s yard, the Castle Stables in Arundel. After completing his education at Eton, he worked on stud farms in Ireland and Kentucky and received extra education in Sydney, Australia. 

Dunlop returned to the UK where his first job was an assistant to four-time British jump racing Champion Trainer, Nicky Henderson. He then moved to work with Alex Scott at Sheikh Maktoum Al Maktoum’s Oak Stables in Newmarket. After Scott’s death in 1994, 25-year-old Dunlop took over the yard when it was renamed, Gainsborough Stables. Dunlop’s first success came shortly after when Lynton Lad won at Yarmouth. 

Despite the daunting task of taking over from Scott, Dunlop flourished achieving 1,000 domestic winners as well as finding success further afield in Ireland, the U.S, Japan, Italy, Hong Kong, France and Canada.

His most famous trained horse is Oujia Board, who as a three-year-old was as a dual Oaks winner. He went onto win seven Group and Grade 1 races, including a Hong Kong Vase, a Prince of Wales’ Stakes at Royal Ascot. 

Dunlop has had his fair share of bad luck too. In November 2015 he suffered the loss of British-bred Thoroughbred Racehorse Red Cadeaux, who was a triple runner up in the Melbourne Cup. He was put down following complications after surgery.

Saturday 4 November 2017

Hurricane Fly

Hurricane Fly is best known for winning the Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival twice, in 2011 and 2013. However, Ruby Walsh, who rode him to both those victories, always insisted that the son of Montjeu never displayed his true colours at Prestbury Park.

Be that as it may, Hurricane Fly was one of the finest and most consistent horses in the history of National Hunt racing. In a nine-year career, he won 24 of his 32 starts over hurdles, including a world-record 22 Grade One races, and earned nearly £1.9 million in total prize money. His Timeform rating, of 174, was just 1lb inferior to the likes of Gaye Brief, Salmon Spray and Sea Pigeon.

Hurricane Fly finally crossed the Irish Sea to contest the Champion Hurdle for the first time in 2011, having missed the Cheltenham Festival through injury in the two previous seasons. However, those people who had called him the Irish ‘phantom’ soon realised what they’d been missing because, despite taking a keen hold, Hurricane Fly took a slight lead at the final flight and was driven out to beat Peddlers Cross by 1½ lengths.
At the end of his racing career, Ruby Walsh said of him, “Quite simply, Hurricane Fly is the best hurdler I have ever sat on. The only hurdler you can compare him to in my lifetime is Istabraq.” Speaking of Istabraq, Hurricane Fly registered his fifth and final win in the Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown in January, 2015, breaking the previous record of four wins held by the three-time Champion Hurdle winner. Remarkably, Hurricane Fly ran in 10 races at Leopardstown – all Grade One contests – and won all 10.

Co. Carlow trainer Willie Mullins, who took charge of Hurricane Fly from Jean-Louis Pelletan in France in the spring of 2008, simply said of him, “He’s a legend of a horse.” Mullins was, however, thankful that his charge was retiring in good health, saying, “This day was always going to come and it’s great that we’re doing it on our terms, rather than due to an injury or something like that.”