The scene was as unlikely as you'd expect to find for records â€“ a cold Saturday night in Wolverhampton. The race was a piddling little claimer for two-year-olds, and neither the horse, Guava, nor the jockey, three pound claimer Kieran O'Neill, are household names. Yet their victory in was winner 217 for Hannon since 1 January this year.
Hannon first became the holder of the record for the number of British flat race winners in a calendar year in 1993, when his tally of 182 was two higher than the total achieved by Henry Cecil in 1987. That record stood for 15 years, and it was Hannon himself who broke it, with a total of 189 in 2008.
That score was the highest for only one season, as in 2009 Mark Johnston sent out 216 winners from his yard at Middleham. Now, just two years on, the record is back at East Everleigh. Hannon said yesterday, "I didn't know anything about it until I read it in the paper. We have had a good year. We had more than 20 group winners so it's been a good year. We have very few left to run this year, just two or three more I think."
Hannon is renowned for his success with two year olds, and he has also set the record for the most juvenile wins four times: in 1993 and 2009 (98 winners), in 2010 (120) and again this year, with 125 so far. This season's crop has helped him become champion trainer of the fourth time as well.
Hannon is now second in the all-time list of winning trainers in Britain, although his total of 3,600+ is over 500 less than the 4,183 trained by Martin Pipe, mostly over jumps. The two were born within 24 hours of each other, and their careers have seen both become multiple champions whose domination was one of quantity rather than quality.
Perhaps then, the Spiffing Crabbies Alcoholic Ginger Beer Claiming Stakes, run just half a mile downwind of Banks Brewery, was quite an appropriate one in which to break the record. I hope there was a crate or two in the horsebox for celebration on the return home.