The Standout Trainers Thus Far in the 2023 Flat Racing Season

by Anne B. Robinson

We are approaching the halfway stage of the 2023 flat racing season. At this point of the campaign, we have already witnessed four of the sport’s five Classics — with the Guineas Festival taking place at Newmarket back in May and Epsom Downs Racecourse playing host to the Derby Festival at the beginning of June.

There is still a long way to go before British Champions Day draws the curtain on the season in October. However, at this stage of the campaign, it’s worth taking a look back at the trainers who have had a good start to the year and consider who could go on to win the prestigious Trainers’ Championship at Ascot’s season finale.

Andrew Balding

A trainer whose stock has risen massively in the last few years, Andrew Balding is starting to prove he can compete with the powerhouses like Godolphin’s Charlie Appleby, father-son duo John and Thady Gosden, and Aidan O’Brien despite not quite having the same big backing as his counterparts.

The Kingsclere handler is second in the Trainers’ Championship standings at the time of writing with 66 wins from 344 runs and £1,636,403 in prize money. Balding won his third British Classic earlier this season as a 7/2 second favorite in the race odds Chaldean won the 2,000 Guineas under Frankie Dettori, while some of his other big wins include Coltrane’s Group 3 success in the Sagaro Stakes and The Foxes landing the Group 2 Dante Stakes.

John and Thady Gosden

Champion Trainer four times between 2012 and 2019, John Gosden is no stranger to success, with over 3,000 career wins and 12 British Classic triumphs. He took out a joint-training license with his son Thady in 2021, and they won the Leading Trainer title at Royal Ascot in their first year operating together.

Soul Sister’s victory in the Oaks under Frankie Dettori earlier this month was the first time the father-son partnership enjoyed Classic success, while they have also won several Listed contests, two Group 3s, the Group 2 Middleton Fillies’ Stakes, and the top-level Coronation Cup as they currently lead the Trainers’ Championship standings with 53 wins from 222 runs and £1,822.512 in prize money.

Aidan O’Brien

O’Brien is a constant recipient of the big prizes, and this season has been no different. Prior to Royal Ascot, the Ballydoyle hander had fielded just 25 runners in Great Britain but had an impressive return of seven wins, 12 places and £1,498,155 in prize money — which is good for third in the Trainers’ Championship standings.

O’Brien’s biggest win this year came in the Derby at Epsom earlier this month, thanks to Auguste Rodin, which made up £885,782 of his prize money. His other wins of note prior to the Royal meeting include the Group 2 Sandy Lane Stakes and two Listed contests in the form of the Haras De Bouquetot Filles’ Trials Stakes at Newbury and the Dee Stakes at Chester.

Charlie Johnson deserves a mention as he is currently fourth in the standings with 77 wins, 233 places and £1,133,983 prize money from 464 runs.

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