Richard Hannon enjoyed a sensational first season after taking over from his father in 2014, and there has been little let up since. He clocked up his 1000th winner on Derby Day in 2019 and he already has his eyes on winner number 2000.
Richard hit the ground running when Night Of Thunder won the 2,000 Guineas and he gained further first-season wins at the top level with Olympic Glory in both the Lockinge Stakes and the Prix de la Foret, with Toronado in the Queen Anne Stakes, and with the flying filly Tiggy Wiggy in the Cheveley Park Stakes.
The handover from four-time champion trainer Richard senior, who remains closely involved on an everyday basis, could hardly have gone more smoothly, for Richard took the championship at the first attempt with 206 domestic winners.
The aim then and ever since has been to “strive for quality horses and to give owners a good all-round experience, with hopefully some success on the way,” and on that score and on many others the team continue to deliver.
Top level winners since include Night Of Thunder again in the 2015 Lockinge, Pether’s Moon in the same year’s Coronation Cup, Barney Roy in the 2017 St James’s Palace Stakes, Billesdon Brook in the following year’s 1,000 Guineas and the 2019 Sun Chariot Stakes, and King Of Change in the 2019 QE II. Mojo Star’s second to Adayar in the 2021 Derby was another massive highlight.
Richard Hannon Racing comprises two separate yards - with just over 100 horses at the original one at Everleigh, where Richard’s father and grandfather both trained and where he lived himself until he was 18, and the much newer base at Herridge, which has around 120 horses as well all of the owners’ facilities, the offices, and the homes of both Richard and his parents, which are only around 100 yards apart.
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 people on the payroll, Richard needs very effective systems in place to keep the wheels running smoothly, and key to it all are effective delegation and top-class staff.
Richard confirms: “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".
Prominent among them are Tony Gorman, who has been on the team for some 45 years and is the long-standing head man at Herridge, and recent arrival Colin Bolger, the former jump jockey who took over from Grand National winner Steve Knight as head man at Everleigh early in 2021, though Steve has not quite left and still rides out regularly.
If good staff are vital, so too are good owners, and Richard Hannon Racing aims to cater for most budgets. Sheikh Joaan Al Thani, Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum, King Power Racing and the Shadwell Estate are all currently well represented, alongside syndicates including Highclere Thoroughbreds, Middleham Park Racing and Chelsea Thoroughbreds, while Kia Joorabchian’s Amo Racing has also become a big player with a team headed by Mojo Star.
However, smaller owners have traditionally been the Hannons’ bread and butter and they remain as welcome as ever. Julie Wood, whose 150 plus winners include plenty at Group level, started in only a very small way, and so did The McMurray Family, who enjoyed success on a level most can only dream of when their first horse, Happy Romance, won four races and more than £200,000 as a juvenile in 2020.
Many top riders started out with the Hannons, including three-time champion Ryan Moore, who many recognise as the best jockey in the world. More recently Hollie Doyle, Tom Marquand and Rossa Ryan were apprenticed to Richard, while others who have taken a similar route include Pat Dobbs, Sean Levey and Thore Hammer Hansen, plus Cam Hardie, Dane O’Neill and Kieran O’Neill.
It is perhaps sobering to note that 2023 will mark the 50th anniversary of Richard senior’s first Classic success with Mon Fils in the 2,000 Guineas, but while many traditional ways remain core to the success of Richard Hannon Racing, this is an operation which has never been afraid to move with the times.
While the past was rich with success, the future looks even brighter.