John Dunlop to retire

  • Last Updated: September 13 2012, 16:44 BST

Veteran Classic-winning trainer John Dunlop is to retire at the end of the current Flat season.

John Dunlop: Calling time on a long and distinguished career

Twice winner of the Epsom Derby with Shirley Heights (1978) and Erhaab (1994), Arundel-based 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) and Salsabil (1990), with the latter also winning the Irish Derby, as did Shirley Heights.

Only the 2000 Guineas eluded him of the five Classics run in Britain.

Awarded an OBE for his charitable work and responsible for over 3,500 winners, 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."

Born at Tetbury in Gloucestershire, Dunlop first took out a training licence in 1966 and was champion trainer in 1995, sending out a total of 10 Classic winners.

Another highlight in an illustrious career which saw 74 Group One victories was the flying sprinter Habibti, winner of the July Cup, Nunthorpe, Haydock Sprint Cup and Prix de l'Abbaye in 1983.

Lahib won the Queen Anne Stakes and Queen Elizabeth II Stakes in 1992 while Bahri won the St James's Palace Stakes and QEII in 1995.

Arguably one of the finest horses to pass through the doors of Dunlop's Castle Stables yard 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.

Married to Susan in 1965, Dunlop has two sons, Ed and Harry, both of whom are now successful trainers.

Ed Dunlop has enjoyed Classic glory of his own in the Oaks with superstar fillies Ouija Board and Snow Fairy, and 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 (Christina) Patino and therefore wouldn't have trained Snow Fairy.

"I owe him a huge debt for that and so many other things."

Harry Dunlop joined his brother in paying tribute to his father, and is hoping there is another Group-race winner 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."

Dunlop is expected to be at Doncaster, with officials set to make a special presentation in honour of his three Leger winners at the track.