Obituary: John Dunlop (B3 1953-56)
John Dunlop (B3 1953-56) died on 7th July 2018 following a long illness.
With almost 3,600 winners as a racehorse trainer over nearly half a century, John Dunlop was an institution in the world of racing. You could fill an entire page with a list of his big-race successes. Among the best he sent out from his base in Arundel, Sussex, were Shirley Heights in the 1978 English and Irish Derbys, Ragstone in the 1974 Ascot Gold Cup, Shadayid in the 1,000 Guineas in 1991, and three St Leger victories with Moon Madness (1986), Silver Patriarch (1997) and Millenary (2000).
His classic victories in addition to the St Legers included the Derby twice, the 1,000 Guineas three times and the Oaks twice, while at the peak of his powers he had an enviable list of well-heeled owners using his services, including the Maktoum family.
After National Service in the Royal Ulster Rifles, he paid for an advertisement in the Sporting Life offering himself for a job in racing. It was spotted by Neville Dent, who took him on as a general factotum.
Two years later, in 1963, John answered an advert for the role of assistant trainer and secretary to Gordon Smyth, private trainer to the Duke and Duchess of Norfolk and their friends at Castle Stables in Arundel. He talked his way into the job despite being unable to type, and cheerfully admitted years later that he did not even know what PAYE stood for. Such was his impact that late in 1965 he took over the training licence at the age of 26 when Smyth moved on to Lewes.
The success of Tamino in the Palace House Stakes at Newmarket in 1966 was the first of a conveyor belt of winners delivered over the next 47 years. He started with 50 horses in his yard and saw the number increase to 200. John forged a long and richly rewarding partnership with Willie Carson, who rode more winners for him than with any other trainer.
His final years at Arundel were unexpectedly challenging. A drop in the numbers of horses and owners forced him to bow out in 2012, with his business in voluntary liquidation.
Generous of spirit with a wry sense of humour, John sat on several charitable committees, was a tireless fundraiser for a variety of causes in racing and, in particular, was a big supporter of the Racing Welfare charity. In the early 1970s, he was a prime mover in organising a day of show jumping at Ascot that raised £250,000 to help save the Grand National. In 1996, he was made OBE.