Two-time Derby winning trainer Dunlop dies

John Dunlop evaluating a horse at the annual sales in Deauville, western France, in 2005

English training great John Dunlop who numbered two Epsom Derby victories among his 10 British classic successes has died aged 78 his son Ed announced on Saturday.

The always dapper and urbane Dunlop won the blue riband of flat racing with Shirley Heights (1978) and Erhaab (1994) with the former going on to land the Irish Derby later that season.

Dunlop -- who along with the late Dick Hern, Peter Walwyn and Henry Cecil as well as Michael Stoute formed a formidable quintet of English trainers against their powerful Irish and French rivals -- also won the 1000 Guineas three times, the Oaks twice and the oldest classic of them all, the St Leger, on three occasions.

The only English classic to elude Dunlop -- who was fortunate to survive when his aorta burst in 2001 -- was the colt's mile (1600 metres) the 2000 Guineas.

Married to Susan he had three sons, Tim, who was killed in a car crash in France, and Ed and Harry, both of whom successfully followed in their father's footsteps.

"Very sadly my father died last night after a long battle following surgery in Worthing Hospital," said Ed in a statement.

"He will be greatly missed by so many. He was a wonderful husband, father and grandfather and also a brilliant trainer. He also gave tirelessly to charity work (for which he was given an award by Queen Elizabeth II)."

Aside from his classic successes he will be remembered too for the extraordinary sprinter Habibti, who Dunlop switched from a mile to the shorter distances. She went on to win four Group One races including the Prix de l'Abbaye at Longchamp to earn herself racehorse of the year honours.

In all he trained over 3,500 winners from taking out a licence in 1966 to his retirement in 2012.

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John Dunlop evaluating a horse at the annual sales in Deauville, western France, in 2005.