REIGNING champion Flat trainer Richard Hannon is to retire at the end of the year.
The Wiltshire-based handler, 68, will hand over the licence to his son, Richard Hannon junior, on 1 January.
Hannon said: “The worst-kept secret is racing is out – I am standing down from New Year’s Day. It was always going to happen, but Richard jnr has served his apprenticeship and you cannot keep him waiting forever.
“We thought long and hard as to when to make the announcement, but I wanted to make sure all my owners knew first, especially the Queen. Now that all the yearlings are in for next season, it is the appropriate moment to let everyone know.
“Inevitably, people will say that I have retired, but I will still be up and out at first lot and assisting Richard instead of him assisting me. I will still go to Newbury and Salisbury and also Royal Ascot and Goodwood, but I am now 68 and maybe it is time that I dropped down a gear.”
Hannon, crowned champion trainer three times in the last four years, secured countless big-race victories, including three triumphs in the 2000 Guineas with Mon Fils, Don’t Forget Me and Tirol. Hannon also claimed the 1000 Guineas last season with Sky Lantern.
He began training in 1970 following the retirement of his father, Harry. Despite having been responsible for sharp thoroughbreds like Lyric Fantasy and Lemon Souffle, Hannon has long considered five-times Group One-winning miler Canford Cliffs to have been the best horse he ever trained, and further top-level success at a mile has come this season with Toronado and Olympic Glory.
Hannon bows out at the top after securing a record-breaking number of domestic winners (238) to earn over £4.5million in prize-money.
Hannon jnr celebrates his 38th birthday today.
Hannon has been a major player across the globe in the last few years and was quick to acknowledge the role of his son in attracting prominent owners to the yard, among them Sheikh Joaan Al Thani, in whose silks Toronado and Olympic Glory won the Sussex Stakes and Queen Elizabeth II Stakes respectively this season.
He said: “The quality of horses has definitely improved these last two or three years and that is down to Richard jnr. It was him who brought in Sheikh Hamdan (Al Maktoum) and Sheikh Joaan (Al Thani) amongst others and we can now go to the bloodstock sales with fatter cheque books than we have done in the past.”
Reflecting on his career, Hannon said: “I have been lucky enough to have trained some great horses. However, we have one more roll of the dice this year, Sky Lantern in the Hong Kong Mile at Sha Tin on 8 December. It would be nice to finish with one more biggie.”