Friday 3 December 2021

A Frankel Fairy Story for John Leeper Dunlop

I guess most horse racing fans remember John Dunlop

Frankel had made his mark before his licence had expired. 

I wonder if you noticed the connection with the Arundel-based maestro and the Frankel-sired John Leeper? 

Unless you are one of those people who have a fascination with middle names, I doubt it. 

For those who do. 

John Leeper Dunlop OBE trained the winner of 74 Group One races. To add to his achievements let's not forget 10 Classic winners. 

Also, over 3000 winners in total.

Champion trainer in 1995. 

A life's work. 

Sadly, John passed away on the 7th July 2018, aged 78. 

His sons, Ed and Harry, have been in the training ranks since 1995 and 2007 respectively. Both Eton educated, and successful handlers with major wins. 

However, it is fair to say their accolades pale into significance compared to their father. To be fair, Dunlop had a vast career from 1966 - 2012. 

Major wins included: 

1000 Guineas: Quick As Lightning (1980), Salsabil (1990) & Shadayid (1991)

Derby: Shirley Heights (1978) & Erhaab (1998)

Oaks: Circus Plume (1984) & Salsabil (1990)

St Leger: Moon Madness (1986), Silver Patriarch (1997) & Millenary (2000)

It seems a long introduction to get to the heart of this title: A Frankel Fairy Story for John Leeper Dunlop. 

This son of Frankel out of the exceptional dam Snow Fairy, who was trained by Ed Dunlop, had a supreme racing career spanning from 2009 - 2012. 

Race fans will need little help remembering this brilliant horse. She races 21 times, achieving 8 wins, and placed 8 times. 

Snow Fairy was a globe-trotting success story. She raced at Group 1 level and rarely disappointed, a truly consistent horse. Six of her victories came at the highest level racing in countries across the world: England, Ireland, France, Japan & Hong Kong. 

She concluded her racing career with a Group 1 victory at Leopardstown Ireland, winning the Irish Mills Irish Champion Stakes, beating John Gosden's Nathaniel by one-and-a-quarter lengths. 

Total career earning of £3,911,804. 

A horse that you could only hope to own. Anamoine Ltd had the luxury of not only racing this astonishing filly but to appreciate and realise the worth of her offspring. 

Virgin Snow, sired by Gleneagles has proven a lovely, progressive, filly, trained by Ed Dunlop, racing in the familiar Snow Fairy silks of Anamoine Limited. At the time of writing, she has raced 8 times, tasting victory on her first start taking advantage of a lowly handicap mark of 82. She's steadily gone up in the weight and every inch a Group horse. It's only a matter of time before this bay wins at pattern class. 

To be fair John Leeper is a horse breeder's dream. Sired by Frankel and out of Snow Fairy. If ever a horse should be a Group 1 contender this is the one. 

I guess that is a story for many blue bloods.

John Leeper is one of the best horses in Ed Dunlop's stable. In fact, I would imagine La Grange Stables will be looking forward to this new Flat turf season. 

This bay colt, born on the 28th April 2018, may well have needed time to mature. However, he was far from disgraced on his debut at Doncaster on the 11th September 2020. Making his debut over 7f, he was half fancied in the betting, with an 8/1 SP. He finished a creditbale fourth, beaten three-and-a-quarter lengths. 

This year will see a much better horse. I'm excited to see where John Leeper makes his return as a three-year-old. 

Ed Dunlop and owners Anamoine Limited will be meticulously planning this year's campaign. Long term plans include the Epsom Derby (Group 1) and the Irish Derby (Group 1). 

Perhaps John Leeper Dunlop will transcend life in the name of another Classic winner. 

Wouldn't that be a Fairy story come true?

Good luck to connections.