Harry Dunlop to stop training this season

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Harry Dunlop revealed he intends to permanently close his yard at the end of the season.

Despite saddling recent high-profile winners at Goodwood and Ascot, the Group 1-winning trainer cited the current economic climate as making it increasingly hard to cover the costs of feed, staff and transport, while the impacts of Brexit have been another factor for a yard which enjoyed great success in France with horses such as Robin Of Navan, Knight To Behold and Fighting Irish. 

Dunlop admitted he had been mulling the decision for some time but said he was excited to explore new opportunities for work in the thoroughbred industry. 

“I have been thinking about it for quite a while,” said Dunlop, who has held a licence for 16 years. “The French side was a major part of our business and really since Brexit, the costs have gone up.

“That was certainly a factor because during Covid I lost a lot of my French-bred horses. They’re always hard to replace and although we had a good season last year, when you don’t have a big horse to throw your name out there, if the numbers aren’t good enough, it’s very hard to make it pay.”

Lambourn-based Dunlop sent out a string of Listed and Group winners having never trained more than 40 horses, a number which is currently down to 14. 

Robin Of Navan became his first Group level winner when defeating Cloth Of Stars in the 2015 Prix de Conde, form he upheld in the following month’s Group 1 Criterium de Saint-Cloud.

Robin Of Navan established a blueprint for Dunlop as he scoured the  sales in Deauville to buy horses that would be eligible for the lucrative French premium system.

The son of American Post took Dunlop and wife Christina all round the world, running in the Prix du Jockey Club, the Premio Roma, the Hong Kong Cup and Keeneland’s Turf Mile in a career spanning five seasons. 

Dunlop tasted further French Group success with Fighting Irish and Jackfinbar, but it was Knight To Behold who really flew the flag for the yard and owner/breeder Neil Jones, whose Millenary won the St Leger and a string of Cup races when trained by Harry’s father John. 

Reflecting on his best days on track, Dunlop said: “Winning the Lingfield Derby Trial with Knight To Behold was very exciting because you were talking about having a leading horse for the Derby. 

“Robin Of Navan winning the Criterium de Saint-Cloud was another amazing day.”

At the age of 45 Dunlop believes he has plenty still to give within racing and bloodstock and said: “I’m really excited to go out into the industry and to do something else. I’ve been planning this for quite a long time and I’m in a very lucky position that we’re in good shape financially and I can’t wait to start with whatever new opportunities come along.

“It’s certainly not all doom and gloom.”

Dunlop’s announcement comes less than a fortnight after fellow-Lambourn trainer Joe Tuite revealed he is to stop training due to the financial pressures.

Courtesy of Racing Post