When it comes to horse trainers, we probably all have our favourites. Many of our bets are highly influenced by a horse’s training history. Here is a short profile of some horse trainers who we think stand out from the rest. If we have missed your favourite, then apologies. Let us know, and we will look to include them next time.
Of all the British National Hunt trainers, Paul Nicholls is arguably the most outstanding. Born in 1962 and based in Ditcheat, Somerset, he has trained over 3,000 winners. Accolades include four Cheltenham Gold Cups, eleven British jump racing Champion Trainer titles, and a Grand National win. He was quite a reasonable jockey in his time too, lifting the Hennessy Gold Cup twice and the Irish Hennessey Gold Cup.
Nicholls became a trainer in 1991, though it took until 1999 to make his first breakthrough with three wins at the Cheltenham Festival. But what really added icing to his cake was his partnership with stable jockey Ruby Walsh. The pair formed an unstoppable team winning, amongst many other prestigious events, the Queen Mother Champion Chase in 2008 and 2009, the King George VI Chase five times with Kauto Star and with the same horse two Cheltenham Gold Cups.
Despite his prolific success, Nicholls is a nice guy. Approachable and friendly, he is always willing to give his opinion on any aspect of horse racing. He is currently with his third wife with whom he has two children plus another from his second marriage.
The Irish horse trainer Aidan O’Brien is based at the Ballydoyle Stables in County Tipperary where he has trained many top class horses. He is generally proclaimed as the top flat racing jockey in the country. Just some of the famous horses he trained include Galileo (who he co-trained with one of his sons Joseph then 19) best known for winning the Derby and the Irish Derby, Rock of Gibraltar part-owned by Sir Alex Ferguson, George Washington, and High Chaparral who won ten of his thirteen races before going to stud.
During the 2017 season, O’Brien trained a record-breaking 26 Group 1 winners. Other career records include training 7 winners are the 2016 Royal Ascot festival. He often works with his wife Anne-Marie with whom he has four children.
As a person, O’Brien is a little cautious and keeps his cards close to his chest and is never very keen to engage with journalists even after a big success. His characteristic dark glasses add to his aura of secrecy.
Willie Mullins began his career as a trainer in 1988 after previously assisting his father, Paddy. He has a wealth of successes having collected almost all the major prizes in Ireland and many of the major prizes in the UK and France. A small selection of these includes The King George, The Grand National, The Supreme Novice Hurdle English, the Irish and French Champion Hurdles, along with multiple Cheltenham festival winners. During the 2017/2018 season, out of 797 runners, he had a record-breaking 212 winners making it his all-time most successful season.
In 2015 he achieved the record number of winners at the Cheltenham Festival with eight victories, though that record has now been broken.
In total he has been the Champion National Hunt trainer thirteen times, twelve of which have been in the last twelve years and in 2013 he achieved his 3,000th winner Timi Roli who was ridden by Willie’s nephew, Danny Mullins. Probably Mullins’ most famous horse is Hurricane Fly who won 24 out of his career total of 32 races including a record-breaking 22 Grade 1 wins, three of which were in his final season.
Currently based at Clarehaven Stables near Newmarket, John Gosden is considered to be one of the most outstanding racehorse trainers in Great Britain. With over 3,000 winners over 100 of which were Group Ones, he has undoubtedly earned his place in the record books.
Before starting his career as a horserace trainer, he attended Cambridge University from which he graduated with a degree in economics in 1974. His first job was in Venezuela where he was involved in developing a science park but returned after a year to become assistant to Vincent O’Brien, the champion trainer and later he worked with trainer Sir Noel Murless.
Next, he moved to the USA where he worked as an assistant to Tommy Dole in California, obtaining his US horse training license in 1979. His first big winner was Bates Motel, who won numerous significant events. Many more followed, but in 1989 he returned to the UK where he became a trainer at Stanley House Stables in Newmarket. Success followed success and the following year he moved to Manton where he achieved many more prestigious wins before moving on to Clarehaven in 2007.
He lives with his wife Rachel who he met in Cambridge; they have four children. He is one of the sport’s leading communicators and makes frequent media appearances. He loves music and is a keen Bob Dylan fan.
Saeed bin Suroor
Saeed bin Suroor is one of the UK’s leading trainers. He has been British Trainer Champion four times, the first of which was in his second year as chief trainer. The other occasions were in 1998, 1999, and 2004.
He was born in the United Arab Emirates, where for some time served as a policeman before moving to the UK where he became a trainer at the Newmarket branch of Godolphin, the international thoroughbred racing stable owned by Sheikh Mohammed and headquartered in Dubai. He splits his time between Newmarket and Dubai.
In 2010 Saeed bin Suroor was involved in a major scandal. Mahmood Al Zarooni, a new appointee to the stable whose role it was to share the training surprisingly proved far more successful than predicted. Following an investigation, his success was subsequently attributed to doping 11 horses with anabolic steroids. The horses were withdrawn from racing for six months, and Mahmood Al Zarooni received an eight-year ban.
Saeed bin Suroor has a reputation of being easy going with a strong work ethic. Despite his colossal success, he considers there is still much to be achieved, including the Grand National, the Kentucky Derby, the Melbourne Cup and the Japan Cup.