John Gosden is widely regarded as one of the best flat trainers of his generation and some would put him amongst the greatest ever.
Born in Sussex in March 1951, he came into a family already associated with racing due to his father being a well-known trainer. Despite this, Gosden wasn’t drawn to the sport and after he finished school he continued his education at Cambridge University. Whilst studying economics there he became accomplished in both Javelin and Discus. Once he graduated he moved to South America for a while in order to work in land management.
He started out in racing once he moved back to the United Kingdom and worked as assistant trainer for Vincent O’Brien and Sir Noel Murless, two of the greatest trainers in the history of the sport. After this he moved to California and took a position as assistant to top American thoroughbred trainer Tommy Doyle.
After learning the ropes as assistant he attained his American racing licence in 1979 and started out on his own, with just three horses and without the money to afford a yard. He persevered down his chosen career path and achieved his first real taste of success in 1983. He trained ‘Bates Motel’ to victory in the Santa Anita Handicap, San Antonio Handicap, Philip H. Iselin Handicap and San Diego Handicap. The season was rounded off with the horse winning the Eclipse Award.
The following year he trained another Eclipse Award winner, ‘Royal Heroine’ to victory in the Gamely Stakes and the inaugural Breeders’ Cup Mile. He had several years of success in the United States, including winning numerous Grade One races, before he moved back to the UK in 1989.
Training out of Stanley House stables in Newmarket, it took Gosden a couple of years before tasting major success again. That came in 1991 when ‘Keen Hunter’ won the Prix De L’Abbaye De Longchamp and ‘Ristna’ was victorious in the Sun Chariot Stakes.
The following season, 1992, saw him finish with over 100 winners and accumulate over £1million in overall prize money for the first time in Great Britain. These are both milestones he has gone on to achieve several more times, having over 100 winners in seven separate seasons and exceeding £1million in overall prize money in 22 different years.
During the mid-1990’s Gosden formed a formidable partnership with leading jockey Frankie Dettori and together they went on to win hundreds of races. The most notable of these victories was Gosden’s first British Classic in 1996 with ‘Shantou’ winning the St Leger Stakes.
The following year Gosden trained his first Derby winner ‘Benny The Dip’ and also won major races in England, France and the United States. After a couple more successful seasons he moved his operation to Manton in Wiltshire in time for the start of the 2000 season.
Life at a new stables started brilliantly for him when Richard Hills rode ‘Lahan’ to victory in the 1,000 Guineas in May 2000. Gosden would also have success later in the year, training the winners of both the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes and the Fillies’ Mile at Royal Ascot.
He continued his successes with victories at all the major meetings. His notable winners in the early noughties included ‘Demonstrate’ winning the Buckingham Palace Stakes and ‘Oasis Dream’ being first past the post in both the July Cup and Nunthorpe Stakes.
Gosden announced his return to Newmarket to train at Clarehaven stables shortly after ‘Leo’ had won the 2005 Royal Lodge Stakes and the move once again proved successful. ‘Nannina’ winning the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot helped the move go smoothly and was a sign of even better things to come.
A second victory in the St Leger came in 2007 with ‘Lucarno’ and then in 2008 he exceeded £2million in overall prize money in Great Britain for the first time. In fact, the next two seasons brought plenty of success.
In 2010, Gosden made a widely criticised decision by replacing Jimmy Fortune with the inexperienced William Buick as his stable jockey. Buick became only the second jockey, after Dettori, to be given a retainer by the trainer and there were question marks over the move.
Those question marks disappeared quickly when the partnership were successful in the Dubai Sheema Classic and then went on to have a number of Group One victories. In September 2010, Buick rode ‘Arctic Cosmos’ to a third St Leger win for Gosden and that was followed by number four in 2011 with ‘Masked Marvel’.
Gosden was the leading trainer at Royal Ascot in 2012 in a year that also saw him exceed £3million in overall prize money and win his first champion flat trainer title in Great Britain. He trained 14 Group One winners during 2013 and 2014, including ‘Taghrooda’ winning the Oaks.
2014 saw Gosden achieve a feat that no other trainer has ever achieved. This was having his horses win Cartier Awards for Cartier Horse of the Year, Cartier Champion three-year-old Colt and Cartier Champion three-year-old Filly in the same season.
He became champion trainer for a second time in 2015, after a season that saw ‘Golden Horn’ give him a second Derby win and ‘Jack Hobbes’ winning the Irish Derby. In the same year, he amassed a massive £5,277,651 in overall prize money of which over £3million was win prizes.
This year has already gotten off to a flying start, with ‘Linguistic’ winning the £200,000 Tattersalls Millions three-year-old Trophy in April. At the time of writing this, Gosden has already had 27 winners from 107 runs this year and is close to £500,000 in prize money. There is still plenty of time left this year and he is pushing for a third Derby win and a third champion trainer title, which are both within his grasp.
John Gosden is an honest and open man that will go down in racing history as one of the most successful trainers ever. He is close to 3,000 overall career winners, with 2,397 on the flat in Great Britain and around 600 in the United States. These include over 100 Group One winners across Europe, US, Middle East and Asia.