Multiple Classic-winning trainer John Dunlop dies aged 78

Multiple Classic-winning trainer John Dunlop has died at the age of 78.

Dunlop saddled two winners of the Derby in Shirley Heights (1978) and Erhaab (1994).

Trainer John Dunlop with Times Up after winning The Stobart Doncaster Cup in 2012. Pics: PA Wire

He also won the St Leger three times, the 1000 Guineas three times and the Oaks twice, with the 2000 Guineas the only British Classic to elude him.

Dunlop was awarded an OBE for his charitable work and was responsible for over 3,500 winners before retiring at the end of the 2012 season, having first taken out a licence in 1966.

Married to Susan in 1965, Dunlop's two sons, Ed and Harry, are both successful trainers.

Ed Dunlop said in a statement to Press Association Sport: "Very sadly my father died last night after a long battle following surgery in Worthing Hospital.

He will be greatly missed by so many. He was a wonderful husband, father and grandfather and also a brilliant trainer. He also gave tirelessly to charity work.

"I would like to take this opportunity to thank the amazing staff at both Chichester and Worthing Hospitals for all they did for him.

"Funeral arrangements will be announced in due course."

Farewell to master trainer John Dunlop

Very few big races escaped the grasp of John Dunlop during his long and illustrious career.

His death at the age of 78 sees racing lose one of its most respected and considered figures.

Twice winner of the Derby with Shirley Heights (1978) and Erhaab (1994), Arundel-based Dunlop also saddled three St Leger victors among his 10 Classic triumphs in Moon Madness (1986), Silver Patriarch (1997) and Millenary (2000).

Other big wins on his roll of honour included three 1000 Guineas winners - Quick As Lightning (1980), Salsabil (1990) and Shadayid (1991) - and two Oaks in Circus Plume (1984) and Salsabil (1990), with the latter also winning the Irish Derby, as did Shirley Heights.

Only the 2000 Guineas eluded him of the five Classics run in Britain.

Dunlop was awarded an OBE for his charitable work and was responsible for over 3,500 winners before retiring at the end of the 2012 season, having first took out a licence in 1966.

Married to Susan in 1965, Dunlop's two sons, Ed and Harry, are both successful trainers.

Born at Tetbury in Gloucestershire, Dunlop first took out a training licence in 1966 and was champion trainer in 1995.

Another highlight in an illustrious career which saw 74 Group One victories was the flying sprinter Habibti, winner of the July Cup, Nunthorpe, Haydock Sprint Cup and Prix de l'Abbaye in 1983.

Lahib won the Queen Anne Stakes and Queen Elizabeth II Stakes in 1992, while Bahri won the St James's Palace Stakes and QEII in 1995.

Arguably one of the finest horses to pass through the doors of Dunlop's Castle Stables yard was Sakhee, who finished second in the 2000 Derby to Sinndar and then fourth to Giant's Causeway in the Coral-Eclipse.

The Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum-owned colt joined Godolphin for his four-year-old season, winning the Juddmonte International and Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe before being beaten a nose by Tiznow in the Breeders' Cup Classic.

5 of the best for John Dunlop

John Dunlop trained a host of top-class horses in his highly-successful career spanning six decades. Keith Hamer selects five of the Arundel maestro's finest to have graced the track.


The decision to switch Habibti to sprinting after running in the English and Irish 1000 Guineas of 1983 proved inspirational as she swept all before her winning the July Cup, Nunthorpe Stakes, Haydock's Sprint Cup and the Prix de l'Abbaye in brilliant style. Not surprisingly she was crowned horse of the year.


The last of his three St Leger winners, Millenary went on to be one of the stalwarts of the Dunlop stable. Triumphant at Doncaster in 2000, the son of Rainbow Quest raced on until an eight-year-old, winning every season from the age of three. His name is on the roll of honour of most of the major staying races, including with his last success coming fittingly in the Doncaster Cup in 2005.


An exceptional filly meticulously nurtured by her trainer, not only to land the 1000 Guineas and the Oaks in 1990 but also to go on and defeat the colts in the Irish Derby when her victims included Epsom hero Quest For Fame. After becoming the first filly to strike since Gallaria in 1900, Salsabil was described by Dunlop as "the best animal I have ever trained and is quite outstanding".


Probably the best colt John Dunlop ever trained, Shirley Heights won both the English and Irish Derby in 1978. A fair two-year-old, the son of Mill Reef improved considerably at three, winning the Dante Stakes before claiming two Classics in game fashion by narrow margins. He sustained a tendon injury when being trained for the St Leger and was retired to stud.


A thoroughly game performer, Silver Patriarch endured a tough Classic campaign in 1997 but was brought back to his best by his trainer when it mattered. Just touched off in the Derby, he was beaten in both the Irish equivalent and the Great Voltigeur but was primed to the minute to lift the St Leger. The following season he made amends for his narrow defeat at Epsom by lifting the Coronation Cup.


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