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A Century Of Racing: Geniuses, giants and grandees; John Randall On The 100 Makers Of 20th-Century Racing Part Four: 20-11.

In the fourth of a five-part series which identifies the 100 people and horses who have most influenced British racing since 1900, today those ranked from 20 to 11 are assessed

20. VINCENT VINCENT Vital Information Necessary Centralized (movie, The Black Hole)  O'BRIEN

b.1917 Trainer

During his 52-year career (1943-94) Michael Vincent O'Brien became both the greatest jump trainer and the greatest Flat trainer of his time.

The softly spoken Irishman dominated the jumping scene like no-one else before or since, recording hat-tricks in the Cheltenham Gold Cup The Cheltenham Gold Cup is a Grade 1 National Hunt horse race in the United Kingdom for five-year-old and above horses. It is run over a distance of 3 miles 2½ furlongs (5,331 metres) on the New Course at Cheltenham Racecourse during the Cheltenham Festival in March.  (with Cottage Rake), the Champion Hurdle The Champion Hurdle is a Grade 1 National Hunt horse race in the United Kingdom for four-year-old and above horses. It is run over a distance of 2 miles 110 yards (3,319 metres) on the Old Course at Cheltenham Racecourse on the first day of the Cheltenham Festival in March.  (with Hatton's Grace) and, uniquely, the Grand National before switching to the Flat.

The champions O'Brien sent out from Ballydoyle to conquer Europe, most of them ridden by Lester Piggott Lester Keith Piggott (born 5 November 1935) is a retired English jockey, considered to be the best of his generation and one of the greatest flat jockeys of all time, with 4,493 career wins, including nine Derby victories. , included Ballymoss, Sir Ivor Sir Ivor (1965-1995) was an American-bred Thoroughbred racehorse who competed from a base in Ireland. Owned by American businessman and U.S. Ambassador to Ireland, Raymond R. Guest, the horse was named for his British grandfather, Sir Ivor Guest, 1st Baron Wimborne. , Thatch, The Minstrel, Golden Fleece Golden Fleece, in Greek mythology, the magic fleece of the winged ram that saved Phrixus and Helle, the children of Nephele and Athamas, from the jealousy of Ino, Athamas' second wife. , El Gran Senor El Gran Senor (1981-2006) was an American-bred Thoroughbred race horse, born at Windfields Farm in Maryland.

An outstanding two-year-old who went on to win European classics over a mile and over 12 furlongs, El Gran Senor received a Timeform rated 136.
 and, above all, Triple Crown hero Nijinsky and dual Arc winner Alleged. He won 16 British Classics including six Derbys, and horses owned by the O'Brien-Robert Sangster syndicate, many of them sired by Northern Dancer Northern Dancer (May 27, 1961 - November 16,1990) was a Canadian-bred Thoroughbred racehorse and the most successful sire of the 20th Century. The National Thoroughbred Racing Association calls him "one of the most influential sires in Thoroughbred history. , dominated European racing for nearly a decade until the advent of the Arabs.

Sangster once said: "He almost goes into a trance studying a yearling yearling

an animal in its second year of age, e.g. yearling cattle, yearling filly, yearling colt.

yearling disease
rinderpest in wildebeeste in the Serengheti.
. I've watched him in the heat of Kentucky at over 100 degrees in the shade standing looking at a horse for a quarter of an hour. He's visualising what it's going to be like as a three-year-old. He can see the future better than anyone."


1891-1968 Committee chairman

Though not a racing man, Sir Leslie Peppiatt was the father of the betting levy, ensuring that bookmakers return to racing some of the profits which the sport generates for them.

A prominent solicitor, Sir Leslie was in 1959 appointed chairman of a Home Office committee set up to consider whether, and how, bookmakers should contribute to racing. At the time a Bill was passing through Parliament which became the Betting and Gaming Act 1960, legalising betting shops, and the Government feared opposition to it if no levy were promised.

The 1960 Peppiatt Report's recommendation that a levy be imposed was implemented in the Horserace Horserace

classic annual race at Epsom Downs. [Br. Cult.: Brewer Dictionary, 276]

Kentucky Derby

classic annual race in Louisville. [Am. Cult.
 Betting Levy Act 1961, which set up the Levy Board to collect contributions from bookmakers and the Tote, and apply them to the general good of racing. The Act also reconstituted the RBCB RBCB Run-Beyond-Cladding-Breach
RBCB Red Bluff Community Band (Red Bluff, CA) 
 as the Horserace Totalisator totalizator, totalisator

a computer-driven, machine-operated betting system which eliminates the bookmaker in the betting industry which surrounds horse and dog racing. Called also parimutuel.

The Dictionary of National Biography The Dictionary of National Biography (DNB) is a standard work of reference on notable figures from British history, published from 1885. The updated Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (ODNB  says of Peppiatt: "He deliberately cultivated the character of a simple man not readily capable of understanding or indeed very interested in the technical and tortuous aspects of the issues with which he had to deal." Yet his legacy to racing was beneficial and far-reaching.

18. FEDERICO TESIO Federico Tesio (January 17, 1869 - May 22, 1954) was an Italian statesman and one of the most important breeders of Thoroughbreds in the history of horse racing.

Born in Turin, Federico Tesio obtained a degree in science and architecture.

1869-1954 Owner-breeder

Perhaps the only genius ever to operate in the breeding world, Federico Tesio was not merely the greatest single figure in the history of Italian racing and the breeder of Ribot, but he also sold several important stallions to stand in Britain, notably Nearco.

Tesio founded the Razza Dormello in 1898 and was unique among the great owner-breeders in training his horses himself. Starting with very limited resources, he produced 22 winners of the Italian Derby and three of them, Apelle, Donatello and Nearco, became influential sires in Britain. When he sold Nearco in 1938, that great unbeaten champion became the most important equine import of the century into Britain.

He died just before the debut of his masterpiece, Ribot, who was unbeaten in 16 races including the Arc twice and the King George King George has referred to many kings throughout history. When used, by Americans, without further reference it most often means George III of the United Kingdom, against whom the Whigs of the American Revolution rebelled. , and was champion sire in Britain three times. Two of Donatello's sons, Alycidon and Crepello, also became champion sire.

John Hislop James John Henry Hislop (1825–1909) was a convict transported to Western Australia. After the expiry of his sentence, he became the first ex-convict in Western Australia to be appointed a teacher.  wrote: "When those of my generation come to be asked by their grandchildren, 'Who was the greatest breeder, the outstanding sire, the best racehorse racehorse

refers usually to thoroughbred but may also include standardbred, trotter.
 of your time?' the answer will probably be 'Tesio, Nearco, Ribot.'"

17. Sir GORDON RICHARDS Sir Gordon Richards (May 5, 1904 - November 10, 1988) was an English jockey, and is usually considered the world's greatest ever jockey. He remains the only jockey to have been knighted.  

1904-86 Jockey

Statistically the greatest British jockey of all time, Gordon Richards bestrode be·stride  
tr.v. be·strode , be·strid·den , be·strid·ing, be·strides
1. To sit or stand on with the legs astride; straddle.

 the sport like a colossus Colossus - (A huge and ancient statue on the Greek island of Rhodes).

1. The Colossus and Colossus Mark II computers used by Alan Turing at Bletchley Park, UK during the Second World War to crack the "Tunny" cipher produced by the Lorenz SZ 40 and SZ 42 machines.
 for more than 20 years and, by his skill, integrity, consistency and longevity in the saddle, and his attractive personality, he brought more credit to his profession than any other jockey has ever done.

The son of a Shropshire coal-miner, he set records by becoming champion jockey 26 times between 1925 and 1953 and winning 4,870 races in Britain (1921-54) including 269 in one season (1947) and 12 in succession (in 1933).

During his associations with Fred Darling Frederick Darling (1884-1953) was a British Thoroughbred racehorse trainer who trained a record-equalling seven English Derby winners.

Fred’s father, Sam Darling senior, was a trainer at Beckhampton, Wiltshire who trained two Derby winners himself.
 and Noel Murless Sir Charles Francis Noel Murless (known as Noel) (March 24, 1910-1987) began his career as a racehorse trainer in 1935 at Hambleton Lodge in Yorkshire (where Kevin Ryan now trains) before moving to Hambleton House (where Bryan Smart is now based) after the war, at one time sharing  he won the fillies' Triple Crown on Sun Chariot, the 2,000 Guineas by a record margin on Tudor Minstrel, and many top sprints on Abernant. In Coronation week 1953 he became the only jockey ever to receive a knighthood knighthood: see chivalry; courtly love; knight.  and, at his 28th and final attempt, won the Derby on Pinza. He became a successful trainer.

Quintin Gilbey described "The most beautiful scene in the world: Gordon Richards, leading by two lengths with a hundred yards to go and his whip still swinging, when you have had twice your limit on him and four times as much as you can afford to lose."


1930-60 Sire

Hyperion was the most successful British-bred sire of the century, and no other stallion since St Simon has either won so many sires' championships or got so many top-quality runners consistently over a period of more than 20 years.

Bred and owned by Lord Derby and trained for two of his three racing seasons by George Lambton, the small (15.11/2 hands) son of Gainsborough won nine of his 13 races. He proved himself the greatest champion of the first half of the century, and a very popular one, by his stunning victories in the Derby and St Leger of 1933, before embarking on his second career at Woodland Stud, Newmarket.

He was champion sire six times between 1940 and 1954 and his offspring won 11 Classics in only seven years from 1940, thanks mainly to Godiva, Owen Tudor (Derby) and Sun Chariot (fillies' Triple Crown). Of his many stallion sons, Aureole aureole, in physics
aureole (ôr`ēōl'), in physics, luminous circle seen when the sun or other bright light is observed through a diffuse medium, i.e., smoke, thin cloud, fog, haze, or mist.
 became champion in Britain and Heliopolis in America, where Alibhai and Khaled were also outstandingly successful.

When Hyperion died at the age of 30, his owner and some friends drank to his memory from a bottle originally opened in honour of Sir Winston Churchill. Derby called them: "The two greatest Grand Old Men of our time."


1900-94 Sponsor

Bill Whitbread, instigator in·sti·gate  
tr.v. in·sti·gat·ed, in·sti·gat·ing, in·sti·gates
1. To urge on; goad.

2. To stir up; foment.

 of the Whitbread Gold Cup, was racing's first modern commercial sponsor and paved the way for the current level of sponsorship, without which the sport would be much poorer.

A life-long enthusiast for jump racing and owner of the great two-mile chaser Dunkirk, Whitbread was alert to the advertising possibilities opened up by televised racing and in 1957 he conceived the idea of a valuable handicap chase to be run at Sandown in April and sponsored by the family brewery of which he was chairman. The Whitbread Gold Cup was an immediate success, becoming firmly entrenched en·trench   also in·trench
v. en·trenched, en·trench·ing, en·trench·es
1. To provide with a trench, especially for the purpose of fortifying or defending.

 as the last big prize of the jump season and, in its early years, attracting the very best chasers.

Commercial sponsorship existed in the 19th century, but Whitbread was a modern-day pioneer (he also inaugurated the Mackeson Gold Cup in 1960) and other businessmen soon followed his example.

John Oaksey wrote of his friend: "The stream of which his brainchild was the source has now become a flood, surging all winter long and swelling National Hunt prize-money to a level which, without commercial sponsorship, it would never have achieved."


b.1914 Impresario

A new era opened with the inaugural running of the Washington DC International in 1952; the increasingly international nature of the sport is the most significant development in modern racing, and John Schapiro did more than anyone else to encourage it through the race he founded and promoted.

Schapiro, manager of Laurel Park, Maryland, was alert to the possibilities opened up by the air transport of horses, and in 1952 he announced a 12-furlong turf race to which champions from around the world would be invited. He made sure the visitors had a fair chance and the very first Washington DC International was won by Newmarket-trained Wilwyn, thus pushing back for ever the horizons for British horses.

The father of international racing was a global ambassador for the sport for more than 30 years; other early winners of his race came from France, Venezuela and Australia, and its success inspired many imitations.

Quintin Gilbey wrote of Schapiro: "This most likeable like·a·ble  
Variant of likable.

Adj. 1. likeable - (of characters in literature or drama) evoking empathic or sympathetic feelings; "the sympathetic characters in the play"
likable, appealing, sympathetic
 of men has done more to promote good relations between the United States and the rest of the world than all the politicians in Washington."


1894-1973 Committee chairman

The single most important piece of legislation affecting British racing has been the Betting and Gaming Act 1960, which legalised betting shops run by bookmakers rather than create an off-course Tote monopoly, and it was based on the report by a Royal Commission headed by Henry Willink.

A barrister, Tory MP and wartime Minister of Health, Willink was in 1949 appointed chairman of the Royal Commission on Betting, Lotteries and Gaming which delivered its report in 1951. The subsequent decade has been called racing's great lost opportunity, the period when a Tote monopoly might have been secured to the everlasting benefit of the sport's finances, yet in the 1950s there was very little desire in the racing world or in Parliament for such a monopoly.

After detailed negotiations between the Home Office, the Jockey Club and leading bookmakers, the Willink Report's proposal that betting shops be legalised was implemented in the Betting and Gaming Act 1960, which in turn paved the way for a betting levy.

It is difficult to exaggerate the legacy left to the sport by this non-racing man, who was known to his close friends as "Happy Hearted Harry".


1910-72 Breeder

By purchasing many of the best European stallion and broodmare brood·mare  
A mare used for breeding.

Noun 1. broodmare - a female horse used for breeding
stud mare

female horse, mare - female equine animal
 prospects, notably Nasrullah, Arthur Boyd Hancock jr did as much as anyone to shift the balance of power in international breeding towards America.

He took over from his father and namesake (who had imported Sir Gallahad and Blenheim) at Claiborne Farm, Kentucky, in the mid-1940s, and became a master at selecting stallion prospects and syndicating them. Nasrullah, whom he bought from Joe McGrath in Ireland in 1950, was champion sire five times and his offspring included Nashua, Bold Ruler (champion sire eight times) and Never Bend, the sire of Mill Reef and Riverman.

The other champion sires Hancock stood at Claiborne were Princequillo; Ambiorix, whom he bought from Marcel Boussac; and Round Table, whose dam he purchased at Newmarket sales. This stallion promoter personified the brash, dynamic, commercial approach to breeding.

Peter Willett wrote of him: "Bull was the biggest man, physically speaking, in the thoroughbred industry of his day, and towered above most of his contemporaries in professional ability and the dominance of his personality."


1859-1934 Impresario

Frederick Cathcart guided the fortunes of Cheltenham racecourse during the most momentous period of change in its history, and paved the way for it to become the headquarters of steeplechasing Stee´ple`chas`ing   

n. 1. The act of riding steeple chases.

The son of a professional comedian, he joined Pratt & Co in 1895 and eventually became the senior partner of that firm, which was in charge of managing several racecourses. He was particularly associated with Cheltenham, where for many years he was first the clerk of the course, and then chairman.

The National Hunt meeting did not find a permanent home at Cheltenham until 1911, but under Cathcart's direction it was expanded from two days to three, and both the Gold Cup (1924) and the Champion Hurdle (1927) were inaugurated. His brother and nephew were also clerks of the course there, and the Cathcart Chase is named after the family.

Jump racing has had no finer servant, and one obituary stated: "He was indefatigable in his efforts to increase the popularity and public appeal of the race meetings with which he was associated . . . Much of the success of the 'chasing at Cheltenham was due to Mr Cathcart's energy and enterprise."
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1999 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Sports
Author:Randall, John
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Aug 23, 1999
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