John Dunlop to retire
Classic winning trainer announces retirement.
Last Updated: September 13, 2012 3:15pm
John Dunlop: Calling time on a long and distinguished career
Veteran Classic-winning trainer John Dunlop has announced that he is set to retire at the end of the current Flat season.
Twice winner of the Epsom Derby with Shirley Heights (1978) and Erhaab (1994), Dunlop, 73, also saddled three St Leger winners in Moon Madness (1986), Silver Patriarch (1997) and Millenary (2000).
Other big wins on his roll of honour include three 1000 Guineas winners - Quick As Lightning (1980), Salsabil (1990) and Shadayid (1991) - and two Oaks winners in Circus Plume (1984), Salsabil (1990).
Dunlop told Press Association Sport: "I can confirm that I'll be retiring at the end of the current Flat turf season.
"There are several reasons behind the decision. I now have much reduced stable numbers and it is now less viable than it once was.
"My wife has also been ill for quite a while as well, so that has been a factor and I can also now live in the shadow of my very successful sons.
"I don't want to get involved at the moment (in talking about his career), it is a little bit too fresh. I talked to the staff this morning and my owners yesterday and today.
"It's very much fresh off the printing machine."
Arguably one of the finest horses to pass through the doors of Dunlop's stable 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.
Dunlop's sons Ed and Harry have both become successful trainers, with the former enjoying Classic glory of his own in the Oaks with superstar fillies Ouija Board and Snow Fairy.
Snow Fairy most recently won the seventh Group One of her incredible career when landing the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown in the hands of Frankie Dettori.
Willie Carson rode hundreds of Dunlop's winners, including Erhaab in the premier Classic among many others.
He said: "He is one of the true legends of the sport.
"I rode a hell of a lot of winners for him. Just a few weeks ago we were talking about it and I think it was around 680 winners.
"I rode a lot of class horses for him. Salsabil was one of the quickest fillies I ever rode and there were so many other great horses like Erhaab and Marju.
"John was the sort of trainer that could improve horses. Once he worked them out, he could get them to improve and improve and he was always spot-on with what he said.
"I always had a very good relationship with him and I always remember how he always used to say before a race 'there's plenty of time'.
"Sometimes there wasn't as much time as he thought, but he always portrayed coolness, tried to get the jockeys to relax and have confidence in themselves and the horses they were riding.
"He's a gentleman who everyone in racing has tremendous affection for.
"The Dunlop name is going to carry on in racing for years to come with his sons, but John was the one who started it all off.
"He is a master trainer and I can only give him the highest praise."
Ed Dunlop said: "It's difficult to know where to begin, he's been at the top of the tree for so long.
"He's trained two Derby winners, numerous Classic winners and has been champion trainer.
"He's been a great inspiration to me and my brother and we obviously wish him a long and happy retirement.
"It's going to be a sad day for not only the whole Dunlop family when his career does come to an end at the end of the season, but I'm sure all his staff and his owners.
"There are so many memories from when I was young, too many to mention really - Shirley Heights winning the Derby and so on.
"I know how pleased he was when Snow Fairy won last weekend, having trained for Mrs Patino for many years himself of course.
"Certainly without him I probably wouldn't have trained for Mrs Patino and therefore wouldn't have trained Snow Fairy.
"I owe him a huge debt for that and so many other things."
Patrick Cooper, manager for Snow Fairy's owner Mrs Christina Patino's racing interests, said: "It's very sad news, but he's had a truly unbelievable career.
"He's one of the greats and a true gentleman of the turf.
"There isn't a horse that he's trained that he hasn't got the best out of, so you can't ask for any more than that.
"The things he has done outside his training career have been truly remarkable. He's got that OBE for a reason.
"He's trained for Mrs Patino for 30 years and they have had great fun together."
Former jockey Bruce Raymond, now racing manager to a number of powerful owners, including Jaber Abdullah, was another to enjoy good days in the saddle for Dunlop.
He said: "It's very sad news - he's the greatest.
"He's been at the very top of his profession for so long.
"I rode many winners for him and picked up lots of spares, he was very understanding.
"I won the Haydock Sprint Cup before it was a Group One on Runnett (in 1981), that would have been the best.
"He gave me lots of spares that came good. When you went out to ride for him you knew the horse would be prepared in every way, he left nothing to chance."
Harry Dunlop joined his brother Ed in paying tribute to his father, and is hoping there is another Group-race winner for the yard to come in Times Up, who tackles the Doncaster Cup on Friday.
He said: "I worked for him for three or four years and I've learned so much from him and he's been a great inspiration.
"I'm a bit young to remember some of the winners but certainly while I was at school there was Salsabil, Erhaab and Bahri.
"Each year there seemed to be another good horse and sadly there have not been so many recently.
"It was great to see Times Up win at York the other week and wouldn't it be fantastic if he could go and do it again at Doncaster tomorrow."
Sheikh Mohammed, supremo of the Godolphin operation, enjoyed his first ever winner in Britain through the Dunlop-trained Hatta at Brighton in 1977.
Godolphin racing manager Simon Crisford was a one-time assistant to Dunlop and said: "Quite simply he was one of the greatest trainers of all time.
"He gave me my first chance in racing. I turned up and knocked on his door and he asked me what I could do.
"I told him I could wash his car and cut his ivy so it just shows the measure of the man that he took me on and gave me a leg up in life.
"He has done so much charitable work down the years, he really is tireless working for worthwhile causes and he has always put everybody else first.
"There's a link with Sheikh Mohammed, also, as he trained his first winner way back when.
"I, along with everybody in racing I imagine, would like to wish him a very happy retirement."