Life could hardly be better for any horse racing trainer than it currently is for John Gosden. He was crowned the English Flat Racing Champion Trainer for 2018 on Champions Day at Ascot, on a day when stable stars Stradivarius, Roaring Lion, and Cracksman added a Group 2 and two Group 1’s to their trainer’s already impressive CV. Add in the fact that Gosden also has Too Darn Hot to look forward to in 2019, and we thought it was time to take a look back at how it all started for John Gosden and the path he took to the top of his profession.
Born: March 30, 1951
Married To: Rachel Hood
Children: Thaddeus, Theodora, Serena, Sebastien
John Gosden’s Early Life & Career In America
Despite studying Economics at Cambridge University, John Gosden decided to follow in his father’s footsteps (John “Towser” Gosden) by becoming a race horse trainer. However, his dad had sadly died by the time Gosden entered racing.
Gosden began his career by becoming assistant trainer to the legendary Vincent O’Brien and the stable won both the Derby and the Oaks whilst he was there. He then became assistant trainer to another legend in Noel Murless, another stable that enjoyed classic success whilst Gosden was in employment. He then decided to widen his horizons by moving to America, where he took up a post as assistant trainer with Tommy Doyle.
In 1979, Gosden decided to become his own boss and obtained a license to be a trainer in America. His career wasn’t handed to him on a plate though, as he started with just three horses, the reason being that he could only afford to rent a few single horse boxes.
His first big break actually didn’t arrive until 1983, when Bates Motel won a string of prestigious races on his way to winning the Eclipse Award. Gosden seized his moment with both hands, training Royal Heroine to win the first ever running of the Breeders’ Cup Mile in 1984. Many more big-race victories in America were to follow but, in 1989, Gosden decided it was time to move back to England and continue his training career there.
John Gosden’s Career In England
On returning to England, Gosden took up residence in the Stanley House Stables. It took him a couple of years to establish himself, but he soon enjoyed group race successes in England, Ireland, Germany, Italy, and France.
Gosden’s next big move was to team up with jockey Frankie Dettori, and the pair soon set about winning hundreds of races together.
In 1996, Gosden won his first English Classic when Shantou won the St Leger. His second classic quickly followed when Benny The Dip won the following year’s Derby.
By the end of 1999, Gosden had settled into new stables at Manton. It was a move that instantly proved a success as Lahan won the 1,000 Guineas in May 2000, whilst he also won several more Group 1 races that season.
Oasis Dream was another important landmark for Gosden, as his star sprinter won both the July Cup and the Nunthorpe Stakes in 2003.
In 2007, Gosden moved to his current stables at Clarehaven from where he continued to send out a steady stream of winners. However, by this time, jockey Jimmy Fortune was riding most of the stable’s biggest stars.
Horses that continued to keep Gosden’s star in the ascendancy included Nanina, Raven’s Pass, and Lucarno. Dar Re Mi, the damn of Too Darn Hot was also a globetrotting flagbearer for the stable.
By 2010, William Buick was the stable’s number one jockey, and the pair teamed up to win the 2010 and 2011 St Legers with Artic Cosmos and Masked Marvel.
Meanwhile, after Nathaniel had been beaten on debut in 2010, Gosden said it was a major disappointment, though few could have guessed that the winner Frankel would go on to become one of the best horses of all time. Nathaniel certainly went on to prove Gosden’s assessment of him being a genuine Group 1 horse correct as he won the 2011 King George and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes.
The Fugue was another big success for Gosden and Buick, and she helped Gosden claim the 2012 Champions Trainer Title.
Gosden’s success continued with six Group 1 successes in 2013, whilst the successes of Kingman in the Irish 1,000 Guineas, St James’s Palace Stakes, and the Sussex Stakes in 2014 were three of eight Group 1 successes that season Taghrooda’s wins in The Oaks and the King George and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes contributed two more successes to that octet.
Gosden became Champion Trainer again in 2015, which was hardly surprising after the brilliant successes of Golden Horn, who won The Derby, Eclipse, Irish Champion Stakes, and the Prix de ‘Arc de Triomphe. It would also cement the renewed partnership of Gosden and Dettori.
2016 was quiet by comparison but, in 2017, Gosden unearthed the wonder filly Enable who won him both The Oaks, The Irish Oaks, and the Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe. He also picked up an OBE in 2017.
Of course, Enable also doubled up in the 2018 Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe. However, Gosden also achieved other notable landmarks, including Stradivarius winning the £1 Million Stayers’ Bonus.
As of 2018, John Gosden has yet to win the English 2,000 Guineas, but will be looking forward to setting that record straight with Too Darn Hot in 2018.
John Gosden English Classic Winners
Shantou, St Leger (1996)
Benny The Dip, The Derby (1997)
Lahan, 1,000 Guineas (2000)
Lucarno, St Leger (2007)
Arctic Cosmos, St Leger (2010)
Masked Marvel, St Leger (2011)
Taghrooda, The Oaks (2014)
Golden Horn, The Derby (2015)
Enable, The Oaks (2017)