Multiple Classic-winning trainer John Dunlop dies aged 78

Son Ed announces his father’s death on Friday night

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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). 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.”

Willie Carson rode a host of big-race winners for Dunlop, including the Derby on Erhaab and the English 1000 Guineas, Oaks and Irish Derby on Salsabil.

“It’s very sad news. A great loss to racing,” said the five-times champion jockey.

“I travelled the world with him and I rode more winners for him than any other trainer. We had a great relationship.

“I rode Salsabil. It was a great day when she won the Irish Derby and Erhaab in the Derby at Epsom.

“It’s very sad indeed.”

Erhaab and Salsabil were among the many stars Dunlop trained for owner Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum.

His racing manager Angus Gold has fond memories of Dunlop and held him in the highest regard.

He said: “He was a fantastic man and he was a huge part of my life.

“Where do you start? He trained us a Derby winner in Erhaab. Salsabil was a top-class mare who won the Guineas and the Irish Derby and I think the only time she ever disappointed was in the Arc.

“Marju was favourite for the Guineas and got beat before finishing second in the Derby and then he came back just over 10 days later to win the St James’s Palace Stakes which was a remarkable performance.

“He was a huge part of Sheikh Hamdan’s life and he had the utmost respect for him and he thoroughly enjoyed their relationship.

“He was an amazing mentor to me and I learnt an awful lot from him. I spent some of my happiest times down in the park at Arundel watching the horses and listening to him.

“He was a very calm and wise man, but like all of us he could be prickly at times and he was no push over.

“What really shone out for me was his love of the horse and racing as he was fascinated by every aspect of it. I would arrive there and he would ask if I saw what won the Bangalore Derby or was second in the New Zealand Oaks. He loved keeping up with what was going on round the world.

“He was a great man in my life and I could not speak highly enough of him. You had to know your stuff as he didn’t suffer fools.

“He was very good in giving me little tips and pointing me in the right direction when I started and if I asked something, he would always give a little bit of advice.

“I am sure Sheikh Hamdan would say Erhaab’s win would be the greatest memory as he has only had two Derby winners and he is one of them.

“The classiest horse he trained for us was probably Salsabil as she was exceptional. The Irish Derby win was a bit special as for a filly to come out and beat the boys is almost unheard of.

“That would probably be the highlight for me. He did a lot of charity work behind the scenes and would always open up his yard for charity.

“He was a great organiser and he managed to fit a lot into life a lot of us would struggle with. When I joined 32 years ago, Sheikh Hamdan already had horses there. I went the way through with him right until his retirement and it was a joy to be involved with him.”

Richard Hills succeeded Carson as the retained rider for Sheikh Hamdan, and thanks to Dunlop, got off to the best possible start with victory on Elnadim in the 1998 July Cup.

“What a lovely man. He was a pleasure to ride for,” said Hills.

“When I first got the job as first jockey to Sheikh Hamdan after Willie, I rode Elnadim to win the July Cup.

“It kicked me off really so I’m always grateful for that.

“I’ve obviously ridden some lovely horses for him all the way up to when he retired.

“He was great, a very fair man, always nice to ride for. It’s a shame.”

David Menuisier had a good grounding with Dunlop, spending six years working for the Arundel trainer before taking out a licence himself.

“He was obviously a great man and I’ve learned plenty from him. I was there for six years and I think the great thing about him was his composure,” he said.

“His attitude towards life really because he was taking each day as it came – good days, bad days he was pretty much the same which is a massive trait for anybody.

“I now train for myself and I know full well that when things don’t go as we wish they would, it’s very hard to keep cool and he was somebody who was nearly the same every day.

“I think that is the main thing I took from him on top of knowing how to place the horses right and be patient.

“It’s a massive loss. Obviously, I do feel devastated by the news. It had to come one day unfortunately.”

Multiple Classic-winning trainer John Dunlop dies aged 78
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