"Middleham Park Racing is the winning most syndicate in the country and it is an absolute pleasure to be able to train for them. We have been very fortunate over the years to have had some fantastic horses together, including Toormore, Kool Kompany and our 2016 Group One winner, Ventura Storm. Overall the whole experience is top notch, both on and off the racecourse, with regular stable visits with us and some fantastic days out racing."
Richard Hannon took over from his father in 2014. A stellar first season saw Richard Junior crowned Champion trainer with the victories of Night of Thunder in the 2,000 Guineas and Toronado in the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot offering a sparkling indication of what was to follow.
The dynasty is in good hands. Richard Junior acknowledges "He is an enormous act to follow. Maybe an impossible act to follow. The best thing is that he is still working beside me". His father adds "The best thing about the change over is that I get as much enjoyment from the horses winning in my son's name as I did from mine."
Richard lives beside the yard at Herridge with his wife Jemima and young children Jack and Eliza, which is situated in stunning Wiltshire, away from the bustle of training centres. He spent time learning his trade with some of the finest owners and trainers in the world including Frank Stronach in Canada, Richard Mandella in America, and Lee Freedman in Australia. He quickly came to appreciate the priceless skill of his father which enabled him to spot the raw potential in a yearling.
With an army of horses to be exercised every morning, dozens of entries to be made, owners to be contacted, jockeys to book, visitors to be entertained, horses to be saddled at the races and around one hundred staff on the pay roll the system in place is a triumph of organisation. It could not function so efficiently without key staff. Men like Steve Knight (who runs the satellite Everleigh yard) and Tony Gorman who for years have ensured the smooth running of the two yards a couple of miles apart. Read about the two yards below.*
He acknowledges that he was lucky to inherit a great string in his first season, but he knows he cannot rest on his laurels after making such a brilliant start as a trainer. Realising that the future, not the past, is important he strives to provide the best environment for both horses and staff, whilst ready to incorporate new ideas for upgrading facilities and acquiring new technology and equipment.
Richard has trained us some really big successes; Ventura Storm won a Group 1, a Group 3 and placed 2nd in the St Leger in 2016. We won both a Group 1 and a Group 2 with Toormore, who subsequently became European Champion 2 yr old colt and we also won two Group 2 races with Kool Kompany and a Group 3 with Great Page. Seventeen wins at pattern race level (see 'Our Record' page), all within the last five seasons is an impressive partnership CV.
Since we first placed horses with Richard in 2010 (Bahceli and Bilko Pak), we have formed a very good relationship with the whole team: We like to think both know how the other one 'ticks'! This relationship is boosted by the affiliation with Peter and Ross Doyle, world renowned and respected bloodstock agents, who buy many of the horses destined for the Hannon yard. Most of our time at the various sales rings in late summer/autumn is spent in intense discussion with the Doyles and the Hannons, as we look to find our next champion amongst the yearlings being shown.
We have our largest string in training with Richard. In fact, we are one of his biggest owners and have a superb working relationship with the team.
HERRIDGE and EAST EVERLEIGH
East Everleigh is a yard in its own right, with 110 boxes, its own staff and direct access to gallops on Salisbury plain. It's a quiet, olde worldly yard with a relaxed atmosphere. Usually, at any one time around half of our Richard Hannon string are trained over at East Everleigh, it's situated 6 miles from Richard's Herridge base. When we have stable visits, our horse are shipped over to Herridge to parade and display their wares for us in the idyllic Herridge environment.
Richard annexed Herridge to his Everleigh base 20 years ago and it has become his home, both he and Richard Jnr have two lovely detached houses, virtually on site that enable them to both at home and at the helm. Even in 'our' time at the Hannon's, Herridge has developed into a state of the art base where they've recently twice been crowned Champion Flat trainer, both Snr and Jnr. Snr has been quoted as saying that the Everleigh gallops are some of the best in the World, and certainly as good as any in Britain. The Herridge gallops are more than long enough to train any type of horse, either side of the entrance road.
The advantage to MPR we feel, of having two, quite different yards, employing the same M.O. is twofold; firstly, that should a horse need a change of scenery, and many horses do benefit from a change, the opportunity is there. Secondly, although this has never happened to date, touch wood, should one base acquire a serious bug, as affected Newmarket a couple of years ago and Paris and its environs similarly, the the other yard should be able to operate normally, unaffected/uninfected.
There's no real science as to which horses are initially placed where, although horses that are purchased earlier in the yearling sales season generally go to Everleigh and furthermore some Everleigh gallops are longer and more sweeping, so sometimes a distance horse can benefit from being trained over there. However, if you live in the "President's suite" top stable (also called Millionaires Row) at Herridge, à la Tigre Du Terre and formerly home to Canford Cliffs, Barney Roy and our own Toormore, you're probably better off where you are!