Successions in sport rarely go smoothly. Yet the evidence from the four seasons since Richard Hannon took over from his father in 2014 could not be more compelling.
A stellar first season in 2014 saw him crowned Champion trainer with the victories of Night of Thunder in the 2,000 Guineas and Toronado in the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot offering a sparkling indication of what was to follow.
He backed up the following year with scintillating victories from Pethers Moon in the Coronation Cup, showing his diversity when it comes to training, and adding another victory at the top end for Night Of Thunder in the Lockinge.
Having had four years in the job, he has managed to gain Group 1 success every season and Barney Roy was the star of 2017 winning the Group 1 St James’s Palace and then finishing second by the smallest of margins in the Coral Eclipse. A strong team of horses heading into next year will hopefully ensure another successful season.
The dynasty is in good hands. Father and son have long been a formidable team though giving his father instructions since he stepped down to be his assistant is not always straight forward. Richard explains "The assistant is supposed to do what the trainer says but I don't see much sign of the assistant doing what I ask! It has been him and me for fifteen years and that continues since I took out my license. I helped him for all those years and I hope he will be helping me for fifteen years."His father adds "The best thing about the change over is that I get as much enjoyment from the horses winning in my son's name as I did from mine."
Richard lives beside the yard at Herridge with his wife Jemima and lively young children Jack and Eliza, which is situated in stunning Wiltshire, away from the bustle of training centres.He spent time learning his trade with some of the finest owners and trainers in the world including Frank Stronach in Canada, Richard Mandella in America, and Lee Freedman in Australia. He quickly came to appreciate the priceless skill of his father which enabled him to spot the raw potential in a yearling.
With an army of horses to be exercised every morning, dozens of entries to be made, owners to be contacted, jockeys to book, visitors to be entertained, horses to be saddled at the races and around one hundred staff on the payroll, the system in place is a triumph of organisation. It could not function so efficiently without key staff. Men like Steve Knight and Tony Gorman who for years have ensured the smooth running of the two yards, along with assistant trainer, Tom Ward who has been a vital part of the team now for two years.
With so much happening every day the pressure on the trainer must be immense but he is blessed with an equable temperament and manages to appear unflustered on the most hectic of work mornings on the gallops.
He reasons "With an operation this size you have to delegate and we have a great team from top to bottom who know how we like to do things".
Realising that the future, not the past, is important he strives to provide the best environment for both horses and staff, whilst ready to incorporate new ideas for upgrading facilities and acquiring new technology and equipment.