Updated on 09/16/2011 8:25AM

British great Dick Hern dead


Dick Hern, one of the greatest British trainers of all time, died Wednesday at the age of 81 after a long illness.

The winner of 17 classic races during a career that spanned 40 years, Hern had been confined to a wheelchair since breaking his neck in a hunting accident in 1984. He is best remembered in the United States as the trainer of Dayjur, who narrowly missed winning the 1990 Breeders' Cup Sprint after twice jumping shadows near the finish line.

Hern began his training career in 1957 and won his first classic when Heathersett took the St. Leger in 1962. His Epsom Derby winners were Troy, Henbit, and Nashwan, who also won the 2000 Guineas. His English Oaks winners included Dunfermline, whom he trained for Queen Elizabeth and who also won the St. Leger, and Sun Princess, who won the race while still a maiden and also took the St. Leger.

Two others he trained for the Queen were Highclere, winner of the 1000 Guineas and the French Oaks, and the great broodmare Height of Fashion. Hern trained five winners of the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes, among them Nashwan, Troy, and Ela-Mana-Mou, but the best horse he ever trained was his first King George winner, Brigadier Gerard, the winner of 17 of 18 starts, including the 2000 Guineas over Mill Reef. Hern's last classic winner was Harayir in the 1995 1000 Guineas.