Most Influential Figures In UK Horse Racing Right Now

Photo credits: By nakashi from Chofu, Tokyo, JAPAN – 10R Koyo Stakes 3win class 3yo and up turf 1600m at Tokyo Racecourse, CC BY-SA 2.0

Horse racing is one of the most popular sports to follow in the United Kingdom, with millions wagered on the action throughout the season.

 There is effectively no off-season in British racing, with flat action taking place during the summer months, with the incredibly popular jumps being staged between October and April.

There have been some famous figures that have shaped the sport throughout history. Unfortunately, we are unlikely to see British racers shine at the Kentucky Derby prep races, but Cheltenham Festival is just around the corner.

So, who are some of the most important people within the sport in this modern day?

Josh Gosden

There are few more successful British trainers that have helped shape the sport to its current format than John Gosden. The trainer worked in unison with Frankie Dettori throughout the legendary Italian’s career, before he moved to the United States to continue his career following a shock retirement.

Gosden has recorded over 3,000 winners across the globe, which includes famous victories outside of the UK in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Classic and Arc. In total, he has trained winners in over 100 Group 1 races across the world, and that has enabled him to be considered one of the greatest trainers in history.

Furthermore, his openness during interviews enables transparency when it comes to his operation, which has ensured that racing has been able to stay on the front foot in terms of likely issues that it could encounter.

Nicky Henderson

The popularity of jumps racing in the United Kingdom far outweighs the interest in flat racing. Therefore, one of the most influential figures in British races comes in the form of six-time champion trainer Nicky Henderson.

The legendary trainer has helped bring through some of the best racehorses that we have seen in the United Kingdom, including See You Then, who won the Champion Hurdle in three consecutive seasons between 1985 and 1987. Henderson has also trained the winner of the most prestigious jumps race on the calendar on two occasions, with Bobs Worth landing a memorable Gold Cup success in 2013.

In recent years, Henderson’s domination has continued, with his modern greats including stars such as Sprinter Sacre, Altior, and Constitution Hill. The latter is widely considered to be one of the greatest hurdlers of all-time, and will be looking to win the Champion Hurdle for the second straight year at the 2024 Cheltenham Festival.

Hollie Doyle

Horse racing needs superstars that puts the action on track on the front pages of newspapers, and Hollie Doyle has been that star in recent years on the flat. Doyle has taken racing to a mainstream audience since bursting onto the scene, and she has been honoured by picking up a number of prestigious awards to this point.

That includes finishing third in the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award in 2020, while she was also named as the Sportswoman of the Year by The Sunday Times. Doyle has broke new ground on track throughout her career, including in 2022 when she became the first female jockey to win a French Classic. The feat would also see her become the first woman to achieve a win in any European Classic. Her 2022 season was her finest campaign to date, as she also finished second in the Flat Jockeys’ Championship, marking the best finish by a woman in history.

However, Doyle will have bigger targets that she will be looking to achieve in 2024, as he sets her sights on a first British Classic victory. A record-breaking win in the Derby at Epsom would make global headlines, and she should have a number of good options from the John Gosden yard.

JP McManus

There have been few more significant investors in jumps racing throughout history than JP McManus. The business tycoon was formally the major shareholder of Manchester United before the club was brought out by Malcolm Glazer in 2005. However, horse racing has always been a sport close to the Irishman’s heart, and he purchased his first horse in the 1980s.

His first success on the biggest stage would come at the Cheltenham Festival in 1982 with Mister Donovan. Jonjo O’Neill had a famous relationship with McManus, with the Irishman owning the facility in which the trainer operates.

The biggest success for the pair came in 2012, as Synchronised landed victory in the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Another famous horse owned by McManus is Buveur d’Air, who landed victory in the Champion Hurdle in 2017.

McManus has also been the winning owner in the Grand National on two occasions, with his first victory coming with Don’t Push It in 2010. However, the second win remains one of the most famous, as Minella Times landed victory in 2021, with Rachel Blackmore making history by becoming the first female jockey to win one of the world’s most famous races at Aintree.

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