This bloke Hannon seems to be getting the hang of things.
At this rate, in fact, you wouldn’t bet against him adding to the trainers’ championship he won in 1992.
At 65, Richard Hannon’s partnership with his son, assistant and namesake is extending his pomp to the point that their Wiltshire stable — long a prolific source of juvenile winners — now houses the favourites for both the 2,000 and 1,000 Guineas, in Strong Suit and Memory respectively.
Yesterday it produced the winners of both juvenile races on the second day of the July Festival, though in the case of Libranno in the TNT July Stakes even Hannon could not rival the Midas touch of the colt’s owner and breeder, Oliver McDowell.
A few years ago McDowell, a North London locksmith, won over £7 million on the Lotto. He says he has since given most of it away, but he kept enough to pursue the dreams that first brought him here as a boy. McDowell bought a filly named Annabelle Ja, and when she had to be retired prematurely he had her covered by a young stallion, Librettist.
Libranno was the result, and a few weeks ago he won his first start over on the Rowley Mile, at 25-1.
Though he took on just four rivals for this Group Two prize, once again nobody wanted to know, and he was sent off 10-1.
“I’ve got 15 grandchildren, but this horse is like another one to me,” McDowell said. “And it would be just the same if he were just a selling plater. I served my apprenticeship in Newmarket, 67 years ago, with Joe Lawson at Carlburg Stables. It was very tough, but those were wonderful days.”
Everything this family touches clearly turns to gold, as he is “a distant cousin” of Graeme McDowell, who won the US Open last month. But Libranno’s trainer clearly had a role, too. “I sent this horse half-cocked for his debut and he won,” Hannon said. “And if they win for me first time, they usually have a bit more in the tank. He’s a bit free at home and I said to Ryan: ‘If he leaves the gate good, don’t try and organise him — let him roll.’ You’ve got to give him some respect now.”