Sheik Mo Tops Rankings

Ten most influential people in racing

In the first part of a series to celebrate the 10,000th edition of the Racing Post on Monday, John Randall picks the ten most influential people in the sport since the paper was launched in 1986.

  1. JP McManus
JP Mcmanus

JP Mcmanus

Born 1951

Since 1986 John Patrick McManus has matured from being The Sundance Kid to perennial champion jumps owner with his green and gold colours in both Ireland and Britain.

With assets estimated at £586m from gambling, investments (often in partnership with John Magnier) and playing the financial markets, the man from Limerick has horses in training with about 70 trainers, notably with Jonjo O’Neill at his Jackdaws Castle estate.

McManus has won a record five Champion Hurdles, three of them with Istabraq, and has also triumphed in the Grand National with Don’t Push It and the Cheltenham Gold Cup with Synchronised, both ridden by Tony McCoy.

  1. Khalid Abdullah

Born 1937

If Prince Khalid Bin Abdullah Al Saud had never had another horse, he would be revered as Frankel’s owner-breeder, but as well as the unbeaten dual world champion he has owned many stars including another colossus in Dancing Brave; he also bred champion sire Danehill.

A first cousin of the last six Saudi kings, this publicity-shy billionaire former businessman has been the most successful stud owner in Britain for three decades.

His Juddmonte Farms operation, which also has a thriving US branch, is much smaller than that of Sheikh Mohammed but punches above its weight.

  1. Frankie Dettori
Frankie Dettori

Frankie Dettori – box office appeal

Born 1970

Frankie Dettori became the first rock ‘n’ roll jockey, and his box-office appeal has been one of racing’s most precious assets since his awesome seven-timer at Ascot on September 28, 1996.

A son of Italian champion Gianfranco Dettori, he had his first British winner in 1987 and has been champion three times. He rode many champions for Godolphin including two giants, Daylami and Dubai Millennium, while entertaining the public with his flying dismounts and sheer infectious enthusiasm.

He split with Sheikh Mohammed in 2012 but this year Golden Horn gave him his second Derby and record-equalling fourth Arc.

  1. Sir Henry Cecil


Sir Henry Cecil and Frankel

The late, great Sir Henry Cecil and his prized champion, Frankel

Britain’s greatest trainer of modern times, who would have qualified for this list without Frankel, was born with a silver spoon in his mouth but possessed the common touch that made him a public favourite.

Cecil started training in Newmarket in 1969 and soon proved that, in gardening terms, he had green fingers when it came to horses. He won 25 British Classics including four Derbys, notably with Slip Anchor and Reference Point, and eight Oaks.

His career slumped after Sheikh Mohammed took his horses away in 1995, but Khalid Abdullah’s loyalty was rewarded with arguably the greatest racehorse who ever lived.

  1. Duke of Devonshire

Born 1944

The 12th Duke of Devonshire was still ‘Stoker’ Hartington when he was instrumental in the most significant single act in British racing administration in living memory – the creation in 1993 of the British Horseracing Board (BHB) as the sport’s governing body in place of the Jockey Club.

He was the senior steward of the Jockey Club who realised that racing needed a more representative ruling body in order to persuade parliament to look favourably on the sport’s legislative requirements.

This progressive grandee was chairman of the BHB for its first three years. Its successor, the BHA, was created in 2007.

  1. Martin Pipe

Born 1945

A revolutionary in the art of training jumpers, Martin Pipe won a record 15 championships in 17 seasons and a record 243 races in 1999-2000. When he handed over his Somerset stables to his son David in 2006, he was the winningmost trainer of all time in Britain with 4,183 victories.

Entirely self-taught and unencumbered by conventional thinking, this perfectionist and innovator devised a scientific regimen whose spectacular success resulted from his horses’ superior fitness.

Pipe won the Champion Hurdle with Granville Again and Make A Stand and the Grand National with Miinnehoma, although his best horse was Carvill’s Hill.

  1. Andrew Black

Born 1963

Gambling in Britain has been transformed by the betting exchanges, and the biggest in the world, Betfair, was founded by Andrew Black and Ed Wray in 2000.

Black, a gambler and computer expert, had the idea for an online mechanism whereby punters could bet directly with each other. The similar Flutter was launched in America around the same time, but Betfair swallowed up its rival in 2002 and became a public company in 2010.

Black’s enterprise has earned him assets worth an estimated £135 million in the Sunday Times Rich List, and he is a partner in Michael Owen’s stables in Cheshire.

  1. Tony McCoy
Tony McCoy

A P McCoy

Born 1974

The credentials of Anthony Peter McCoy as the greatest jump jockey who ever lived rest mainly on three epoch-making records – the most wins in a career (4,348), the most wins in a season (290 in 2001-02, most of them for Martin Pipe) and the most championships; he was champion in all his 20 seasons as a full professional.

Although the Ulster-born statistical phenomenon triumphed in the 2010 Grand National on Don’t Push It for JP McManus and also won three Champion Hurdles and two Cheltenham Gold Cups, the quality of his winners did not match their quantity.

  1. John Magnier

Born 1948

John Magnier has long been the most powerful figure on the breeding scene in Europe, in Australia and arguably in America through his Coolmore operations in Tipperary, New South Wales and Kentucky.

In possession of the sharpest brain in the business, the Corkman has used his hard business sense to exploit top stallions like Sadler’s Wells (champion sire a record 14 times), Danehill, Danehill Dancer, Montjeu, Giant’s Causeway, Fastnet Rock, Galileo and new recruit American Pharoah.

Aidan O’Brien turns his homebreds and yearling purchases into champions running in the colours of Sue Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith.

  1. Sheikh Mohammed

Born 1949

Sheik Mo

Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum

If British racing has been the best in the world during the lifetime of the Racing Post, it has been thanks to our founder.

The emir of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum has been the world’s most powerful racing figure for three decades and has been Britain’s champion owner for most of that time, either personally through his Darley operation or in the name of Godolphin, whose many stars include two great champions in Daylami and Dubai Millennium.

He has invested billions of pounds in British racing, although his priority is to promote Dubai, the home of Godolphin.

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