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Fabre, Hannon, O'Brien Cop European Trainer Titles
Andre Fabre returned to the top of the French trainers' standings in 2010 after a two-year hiatus during which the title had been landed by Jean-Claude Rouget and Alain de Royer-Dupre. At the same time, Richard Hannon edged Michael Stoute for the British trainers' title, while Aidan O'Brien assumed his usual spot atop the Irish standings.
Fabre was taking the French title for the 22nd time, having previously won it 21 consecutive times from 1987 to 2007. In 2010 he sent out 160 different horses that won 126 races in 553 tries for earnings of 5,246,850 euros ($6.9 million). Rouget was runner-up at 5,072,175 euros ($6.75 million) with a French best 216 winners from 697 starts. Royer-Dupre was third at 4,073,270 euros ($5.4 million) with 75 winners out of 385 runners.
Fabre, Rouget and Royer-Dupre have occupied the top three spots in the French trainers' standings for four of the last five years, 2007 being the exception when Royer-Dupre slipped to fifth. Backed by the powerful stable of Sheikh Mohammed's Darley Stud, the 65-year-old Fabre shows no signs of slowing up and is odds-on to make off with his 23rd title this year. His big horse last year was French 2000 Guineas and French Derby winner Lope de Vega. He also engineered Plumania's victory over males in the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud, as well as Byword's Royal Ascot triumph in the Prince of Wales's Stakes, although that win counts only in the British standings.
Also 65 years of age, Hannon was winning his first British trainers' title since 1992 and his second overall. Based in Marlborough, Wiltshire, he saddled 210 winners from 1,341 starts for earnings of 3,218,575 pounds ($5.1 million). Stoute's runner-up earnings totaled 3,027,131 pounds ($4.8 million) from 73 winners out of 465 starts. Aidan O'Brien, a frequent visitor to the Sceptr'd Isle, was third at 2,821,567 pounds ($4.5 million) with just 7 winners from 89 starts, most of them in group race stakes.
Hannon was dethroning 2009 winner Stoute while sending 2008 champ O'Brien down to third. Widely regarded as one of the best trainers of 2-year-olds in the world, he excelled at his specialty last year, saddling five different juveniles to win seven group races. But he was even better with milers in 2010, sending out Canford Cliffs to three Group 1 victories at that distance, whith Paco Boy and Dick Turpin grabbing one Group 1 mile each.
O'Brien, who ended the year on a sour note when he was fined $16,600 on Dec. 22 by the British Horseracing Authority on for failing to bring Cape Blanco for a second inspection before the stewards after the horse was found to be lame after his May 13 victory in the Dante Stakes, was winning the Irish trainers' championship for the third time in a row and the eighth time overall. The County Tipperary-based 41-year-old did it with 109 wins from 549 starts for earnings of 4,685,555 euros ($6.2 million). Second was 2005 and 2006 champion Dermot Weld with 1,840,055 euros ($2.4 million) garnered from 70 victories in 439 starts. Jim Bolger was third at 1,213,682 euros from 56 victories out of 442 starts.
Cape Blanco, Rip Van Winkle, Fame and Glory, Lillie Langtry and the exciting 2-year-old filly Misty For Me provided O'Brien with most of his big race victories in 2010, but the Coolmore conditioner could only watch helplessly as the year's most disappointing horse, St Nicholas Abbey, raced only once, that when sixth as the favorite in the 2000 Guineas. The warning signs went up on the 2009 European juvenile champ in April when it was reported that he was failing to beat mediocre workmates at home. After the Guineas, 'St Nicholas' was reportedly injured in his prepartion for the Epsom Derby. In early September, O'Brien reported him fit and preparing for a return to the races in the listed 1 1/2-mile Finale Stakes at the Curragh on Oct. 10, but that looks like wishful thinking in retrospect. Coolmore still has hopes of seeing St Nicholas Abbey return to the races this year.
On the owners front in Europe, the Aga Khan (France), Khalid Abdullah (Britain) and Derrick Smith (Ireland) took down championship honors.
The Aga Khan was winning the French owners' title for the fourth year in succession, beating 2006 champion Khalid Abdullah into second with Wertheimer & Frere third. Now 73, the Aga Khan saw 87 different horses carry his green and red colors in France in 2010. They ran 306 times with 73 victories and earnings of 4,246,870 euros ($5.6 million), most of that courtesy of horses trained by Royer-Dupre and Rouget. Prince Khalid, the owner of Juddmonte Farms, the most efficient and perhaps the most successful international Thoroughbred operation in the world, earned 4,052,105 euros ($5.3 million) with 39 French winners from 188 starts. The Wertheimers, who had themselves a great deal of fun and happiness with Goldikova, totaled 42 victories from 248 runners and earnings of 1,952,540 euros ($2.6 million). For the record, Sheikh Mohammed was fourth in France with Ecurie Wildenstein fifth and Godolphin eighth.
Three-year-olds Sarafina (French Oaks, Prix Saint-Alary), Behkabad (Grand Prix de Paris) were the breeding-minded Aga Khan's big winners in 2010.
Khalid Abdullah's remarkable hit rate in France, Britain, Ireland and the United States was 139-for-662, a winning percentage of .210 for earnings of approximately $14.8 million, an average of $22,350 per start in the four most important racing nations in the world.
His British owners' championship was just his second, he last having won it in 2003, but the man has been in the first six or seven in Britain every year since at least 1988. Last year he banked 3,860,917 pounds ($6.1 million) on 74 winners from 341 runners. Godolphin was a distant second with 2,712,390 pounds ($4.3 million) based on a race record of 133-for-687. Sheikh Mohammed's son, Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum was third with 1,473,103 pounds ($2.3 million) accumulated from 108 winners and 693 starts. He is not to be confused with his uncle, the fourth-place Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum of Shadwell Farm fame.
Khalid Abdullah, like the Aga Khan 73 years old, owned and bred six different Group 1 winners in Britain last year. They were Workforce (the Epsom Derby in addition to the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe), Special Duty (the 1000 Guineas in addition to the French 1000 Guineas), Midday (Nassau Stakes and Yorkshire Oaks), Twice Over (Eclipse Stakes and Champion Stakes), Byword (Prince of Wales's Stakes) and European juvenile champion Frankel (Dewhurst Stakes).
Prince Khalid was only ninth in Ireland where he sent out just 45 runners and 11 winners. As has been the case in recent years, the Irish owners' standings were dominated by Coolmore. In Ireland, Coolmore lists only the majority owner of a horse at entry time. This is opposed to Britain, France and America, where all three or four owners are listed.
As a result, Derrick Smith was the leading Irish owner, followed by Michael Tabor and Mrs. John Magnier, although all three of them were involved in all of Coolmore's Irish runners. Smith's pink-and-black colors were seen 161 times for 31 victories and 1,953,115 euros ($2.6 million). Tabor's blue-and-orange silks accounted for 209 runners, 46 wins and 1,603,084 euros ($2.1 million). Magnier's dark blue colors led Ireland with 51 firsts from 281 starts and 1,534,992 euros ($2 million).
Ioritz Mendizabal earned his fourth French riders' title in 2010 and his third in succession. The 36-year-old Basque, who has been in the top three in his adopted country over the last nine years, corralled 171 wins form 1,091 mounts for earnings of 4,202,805 ($5.6 million). Runner-up Maxime Guyon, the first-string rider for Fabre, won 130 races from 1,081 mounts for a France-leading total of 5,378,435 euros ($7.1 million). Third was Franck Blondel, who hit the winners circle 121 times from 935 mounts and earnings of 2,479,200 ($3.3 million). Big names Olivier Peslier, Christophe Soumillon and Christophe Lemaire finished fourth, fifth and sixth respectively.
Paul Hanagan outdueled Richard Hannon's son-in-law Richard Hughes to land the British riders' title, ending Ryan Moore's two-year reign atop the standings. In winning 205 races form 1,214 starts, Hanagan earned 1,846,556 pounds ($2.9 million) and added his name to a roll of honor that includes legends like Franke Dettori, Kieren Fallon, Pat Eddery, Steve Cauthen, Willie Carson, Lester Piggott, Gordon Richards, Steve Donoghue, Danny Maher and Fred Archer.
Hughes won 192 out of 1,098 starts and 3,169,420 pounds ($5 million). Kieren Fallon, in his first full year back following a series of suspensions, finished third with 140 victories in 821 starts and earnings of 2,588,957 pounds ($4.1 million). Michael Stoute's first-string rider Moore was fourth at 138-for-784 and a British best of 3,928,871 pounds ($6.2 million), while Dettori was fifth at 123-for-541.
Dermot Weld's first-string rider Pat Smullen was the champion rider in Ireland with 95 wins out of 645 mounts and eranings of 2,254,491 euros ($3 million). Second was Fran Berry with 88 firsts from 631 rides and 1,775,060 euros ($2.3 million). Johnny Murtagh, who parted company with Coolmore in November, was third at 87-for-407, although he led Irish riders in earnings with 3,133,654 euros ($4.1 million).