The Best Flat-Racing Trainers, Jockeys & Horses Of 2017

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Wings Of Eagles

With the 2017 British and Irish flat seasons now at an end, who were the trainers, jockeys and horses that really had campaigns to remember?

Trainers

Aidan O'Brien

Brilliant O’Brien

Coolmore reasserted their dominance and Aidan O’Brien showed that he is not just the top trainer, but also one that continues to surpass expectations.

He set a new world-record, by training 27 G1 winners in a single calendar year. This honour had previously belonged to Bobby Frankel (25 in 2003).

Highlights included the 1000 Guineas, the 2000 Guineas, the Commonwealth Cup, the Coronation Cup, the Coronation Stakes, the Epsom Derby, the Prince of Wales’s Stakes and the St Leger.

Outside of Great Britain he scooped the Irish 1000 Guineas, the Irish 2000 Guineas, the Irish Derby, the Irish St Leger, the Prix de l’Opéra, the Prix Rothschild and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf.

While there can be no doubt that O’Brien owes a huge amount of his success to the mighty sire, Galileo, this incredible trainer can also take pride in the performances of his own offspring in 2017! Donnacha now looks a genuine top jockey and another of his sons (Joseph) is an established trainer, who recently upstaged his father by winning the Melbourne Cup with Rekindling.

It’s been a simply incredible season, for this super-gifted family.

A Great Year For Gosden

John Gosden is, perhaps, the only trainer still capable of holding O’Brien’s feet to the fire and the Brit collected his 2nd Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe win in 3 years.

Few would argue that, for all of O’Brien’s G1 successes, Gosden had this season’s ace in his hand – the Nathaniel-sired Enable. Before her commanding victory at Chantilly, in Europe’s most prestigious contest, the filly was already running riot. The Cheshire Oaks, the Epsom Oaks, the Irish Oaks, the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes and the Yorkshire Oaks had already been won and Enable is now regarded as the best middle-distance horse based on this continent.

Gosden also trained the Cartier Champion 3-Year-Old Colt, in 2017. Cracksman’s victories in the Great Voltigeur Stakes, the Prix Niel and the Champion Stakes also indicate that Frankel is living up to the hype, as a sire.

The elegant Gosden is now 66, but the thin white duke of British flat racing still knows the route to the winners enclosure when the biggest races are being run.

O’Meara The Mighty

After coming close, in all 3 of the most-recent renewals, David O’Meara finally scooped the Lincoln Handicap at Doncaster. Bravery, ridden by Danny Tudhope, denied favourite Oh This Is Us and the jockey received warm plaudits for an intelligent and daring performance in the saddle.

“I thought it was a fantastic ride. After the Spring Mile, Danny said he was going to bite the bullet and take him over to the far side. He purposefully missed the break, which helped get him settled, and he made a beeline to get over there.” said a delighted O’Meara after the victory.

Bravery, formerly Aidan O’Brien’s inmate, cost just £44,000 and O’Meara is now working his magic on the Geoff and Sandra Turnbull-owned Lord Glitters. The grey French gelding beat GM Hopkins, by a neck, in the valuable Balmoral Handicap at Ascot in October – further enhancing the trainer’s reputation. Keep a close eye on all of the Willow Farm horses, in 2018!

Others Worth Mentioning

Richard Fahey, Sir Michael Stoute, Mark Johnston, Richard Hannon, Ger Lyons, William Haggas, Andrew Balding, Roger Varian, David Simcock, Clive Cox, Roger Charlton, Andrew Slattery, Jane Chapple-Hyam, Tim Easterby, Saeed bin Suroor, Charlie Hills, Kevin Ryan, Ruth Carr, Ralph Beckett, Sheila Lavery, Hugo Palmer and Charlie Appleby who enjoyed one of the best days of his career when Wuheida won the Breeders’ Cup Filly And Mare Turf at Del Mar.

Jockeys

Frankie’s Still Flying

Frankie Dettori has now been an adopted national treasure, in Britain, for many years and 3 decades have now passed since the great Italian rode his first UK winner.

Some say he is in the Autumn of his career, but the leaves don’t appear to be turning brown yet and he won yet another haul of big races in 2017.

Major wins included the Champion Stakes (Cracksman), as well as the Oaks, the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, the Prix Jacques Le Marois and of course the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (all with Enable).

For those of you who think that the wins only came because Frankie had the best 3-year-old colt and the top 3-year-old filly underneath him, you really have to consider just why that was the case. John Gosden is not one for sentimentality, when choosing a jockey. He still turns to Dettori, because he knows this man can be relied on to deliver when it really matters.

Frankie has now amassed over 3000 winners and that’s nearly 750 more than any other active jockey in the UK. Get ready for more flying dismounts, in 2018!

Mcdonald’s Hopes Finally Fulfilled, At Headquarters

While riders like Dettori make winning elite races look easy, for most jockeys a G1 success remains little more than a pipe-dream. That’s why it was fantastic to see PJ McDonald get his day in the sun, when he successfully partnered Laurens in the Fillies’ Mile at Newmarket.

The winning-post couldn’t come quickly enough, for Karl Burke’s filly, as the extremely-promising September was rapidly gaining ground in the final strides of the contest. Mcdonald’s mount was finally declared the winner by just a nose, following a tense delay for connections of both juveniles.

“I honestly can’t believe it. I’m 35 years of age now and the relief when that number got called out was amazing. If I never do anything else in my career, I’ve ridden a Group 1 winner. I didn’t have a clue whether we’d won. I was praying we had it, but I didn’t know. All the credit goes to Lucy (Burke). She rides this filly every day and has done since she came in. It’s a massive team effort, everyone has played their part. It’s brilliant.” Mcdonald told reporters, after the victory.

Let’s hope that this excellent jockey is rewarded and given to ride Laurens, during her Classic campaign!

Winston Saves The Best Till Last

Robert Winston apparently decided that 2017 would be his swansong, calling time on a career in which (for the most part) the biggest prizes had been tantalisingly out of reach. We should not forget though that Winston was Champion Apprentice (in 1999) and won the Cheveley Park Stakes with Magical Romance, in 2004.

Despite winning the 2016 Lester Award for Flat Ride of the Year (Librisa Breeze, Challenge Cup, Ascot), Winston surely thought that any chance of getting a 2nd G1 winner had faded as this campaign drew to its close. However, the very same horse decided to repay Winston for that incredible piece of steering and the partnership landed the spoils in the British Champions Sprint Stakes last month!

“My career was finished but for this horse.” said Winston, following the win.

“I gave my notice to Dean last season, but this horse kept me going. I’m riding for a great man and great staff with great owners and Dean’s got some very nice horses now. This horse is so genuine and very fast, even though he’s bred to stay further. He’s such a trier and although I’ve been criticised a couple of times with people saying I should have won, that’s the way you have to ride him. It doesn’t matter now after this.” he continued.

If Robert Winston does decide to hang-up his whip, he can do so with pride!

Others Worth Mentioning

Silvestre De Sousa, Jim Crowley, Pat Smullen, Josephine Gordon, Ryan Moore, Padraig Beggy, Daniel Tudhope, James Doyle, Colin Keane, Luke Morris, Joe Fanning, Oisin Murphy, Andrea Atzeni, Paul Mulrennan, Jamie Spencer, David Egan, Oisin Orr, Kieran Shoemark, Hollie Doyle, Lewis Edmunds, Callum Rodriguez, Edward Greatrex, Adam McNamara, Hector Crouch, Clifford Lee and Graham Lee who was a great friend to punters (+£28.49 to level stakes, over 294 rides).

Horses

The racehorses are, of course, the real stars and what a fantastic selection the season produced! Here are our top-ten, along with the major races they won and accolades they collected…

Enable

#1 Enable

Age: 3 (Foaled February 12th, 2014)

Sex: Bay Filly

Breeding: Nathaniel (IRE) – Concentric (Sadler’s Wells (USA))

Trainer: J H M Gosden

Quite simply, the best 3-year-old of the campaign. Destroyed top-class fields, time and time again. When Frankie pushed the button, at Chantilly, only Cloth Of Stars was able to summon any kind of response and even that horse was comfortably beaten.

Cheshire Oaks, Epsom Oaks, Irish Oaks, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, Yorkshire Oaks, Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, Named Cartier Champion Three-year-old Filly, Named Cartier Horse of the Year

 

#2 Winter (IRE)

Age: 3 (Foaled February 15th, 2014)

Sex: Grey Filly

Breeding: Galileo (IRE) – Laddies Poker Two (IRE) (Choisir (AUS))

Trainer: A P O’Brien

O’Brien worked his magic, on this Galileo-sired filly and she was outstanding. Some thought that her English Guineas win only came because of the traffic problems that were encountered by Rhododendron, but her performances at the Curragh, Ascot and Goodwood silenced any doubters.

1000 Guineas, Irish 1000 Guineas, Coronation Stakes, Nassau Stakes

 

#3 Cracksman

Age: 3 (Foaled April 9th, 2014)

Sex: Bay Colt

Breeding: Frankel – Rhadegunda (Pivotal)

Trainer: J H M Gosden

The Frankel colt began to show his true class, in the late-Summer and Autumn. He certainly looked a chip off the old block, when hurtling away from his competitors in the Champion Stakes!

Investec Derby Trial, Great Voltigeur Stakes, Prix Niel, Champion Stakes, Named Cartier Champion Three-year-old Colt

 

#4 Ulysses (IRE)

Age: 4 (Foaled March 20th, 2013)

Sex: Chestnut Colt

Breeding: Galileo (IRE) – Light Shift (USA) (Kingmambo (USA))

Trainer: Sir Michael Stoute

Put his Classic Season disappointments firmly behind him and forged a terrific partnership with Jim Crowley. In the International Stakes, Barney Roy and Churchill were out in front and eye to eye at the 2f marker. It was somewhat amusing to see Sir Michael Stoute’s charge put the younger horses firmly in their place, as he cruised past like a Bentley overtaking a couple of duelling boy-racers!

Gordon Richards Stakes, Eclipse Stakes, International Stakes, Named Cartier Champion Older Horse

 

#5 Ribchester (IRE)

Age: 4 (Foaled March 24th, 2013)

Sex: Bay Colt

Breeding: Iffraaj – Mujarah (IRE) (Marju (IRE))

Trainer: R A Fahey

Richard Fahey’s inmate was outstanding, both home and abroad. Over the past 2 season’s, taken as a whole, he has shown amazing consistency and is rated 6 points higher than anything else sired by Iffraaj.

Lockinge Stakes, Queen Anne Stakes, Prix du Moulin

 

#6 Highland Reel (IRE)

Age: 5 (Foaled February 21st, 2012)

Sex: Bay Horse

Breeding: Galileo (IRE) – Hveger (Danehill (USA))

Trainer: A P O’Brien

Bounced back from a bad day at the office (Meydan) and put rivals to the sword, at both Epsom and Ascot. Highland Reel’s lifetime earnings now exceed £6,000,000!

Coronation Cup, Prince of Wales’s Stakes

 

#7 Harry Angel (IRE)

Age: 3 (Foaled February 8th, 2014)

Sex: Bay Colt

Breeding: Dark Angel (IRE) – Beatrix Potter (IRE)

Trainer: C G Cox

It looked like Clive Cox had got a very special sprinter on his hands, when Harry Angel won the Mill Reef Stakes in style as a juvenile. However, he still managed to surpass all expectations as a 3-year-old.

Sandy Lane Stakes, July Cup, Haydock Sprint Cup, Named Cartier Champion Sprinter (2017)

 

#8 Churchill (IRE)

Age: 3 (Foaled January 31st, 2014)

Sex: Bay Colt

Breeding: Galileo (IRE) – Meow (IRE) (Storm Cat (USA))

Trainer: A P O’Brien

Aidan O’Brien’s charge did fade somewhat, as the season progressed, but nobody can take those two Guineas victories away from him. Chesham Stakes winners often fail to deliver in their Classic campaigns and Churchill’s double is a huge boost for a race that has struggled to be taken very seriously, in recent years.

2000 Guineas. Irish 2,000 Guineas

 

#9 Wings Of Eagles (FR)

Age: 3 (Foaled March 17th, 2014)

Sex: Bay Colt

Breeding: Pour Moi (IRE) – Ysoldina (FR) (Kendor (FR))

Trainer: A P O’Brien

Made just 3 appearances and won just a single race, but a Derby winner is answerable to nobody! He won the most-important Classic of the season by less than a length, but the smile he put on the face of Padraig Beggy was a lot wider!

Epsom Derby

 

#10 Rekindling

Age: 3 (Foaled March 23rd, 2014)

Sex: Bay Colt

Breeding: High Chaparral (IRE) – Sitara (Salse (USA))

Trainer: Joseph P O’Brien

Before his amazing victory in Australia, Rekindling had already shown tremendous grit to beat Wicklow Brave at the Curragh. He is the first European 3-year-old to win the Melbourne Cup since Comedy King in 1910 and the youngest champion since Skipton took the money, in 1941!

Ballysax Stakes, Curragh Cup, Melbourne Cup

 

Others Worth Mentioning

Lady Aurelia, Wuheida, Barney Roy, Big Orange, Caravaggio, The Tin Man, Roly Poly, Stradivarius, Here Comes When, Marsha, Capri, Clemmie, U S Navy Flag, Laurens, Hydrangea, Persuasive, Librisa Breeze, Saxon Warrior, Seventh Heaven, Idaho, Hawkbill, Limato, Order Of St George, Dartmouth, Qemah, Sioux Nation, Coronet, Expert Eye, Seahenge, Whitecliffsofdover, Caspian Prince, Atty Persse, Higher Power, Lancelot Du Lac, Nakeeta, Donjuan Triumphant and Dolphin Vista who won the Cambridgeshire Handicap at the massive price of 50/1!

Ante-Post Betting With RaceBets

We hope that you enjoyed the 2017 British Flat-Racing Season, as much as we did. Don’t forget to check-out our range of 2018 ante-post markets which include the 2000 Guineas, the 1000 Guineas, the Oaks, the Derby and the Ascot Gold Cup!

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