Looking back at the statistics from 2010 as a whole the flat season saw six handlers train more than 100 winners in the calendar year – Richard Hannon was the Champion trainer but it was Mark Johnston who numerically had the edge by a score of 211 – 210. Johnston sent out a mammoth 1458 runners to record that score, with Hannon sending out 1341.

As Hannon sets out on his bid to retain the Flat trainers’ championship it is noticeable by taking a look at the recently published Horses In Training volume that he will this year increase his stable strength by a further 27 horses giving him a listed total of 231 in training.

Always strong with his two year-olds Hannon has even more material to work with this year as he has increased his numbers in that area and we would expect him to record even more two year-old winners than he did last year, where he recorded 120 winners from 628 runners.

Hannon passed 200 winners for the first time last year and now has 36 more horses in his care than Johnston is responsible for the second biggest team in the country. Newmarket continues to be the centre of the flat racing universe and it is no surprise to see Sir Michael Stoute having the largest listed team at Headquarters.

His “squad” is not as sizeable as it has been in past years – he was over the 200 mark back in 2000 but he still has some 170 horses in training and will be a formidable force once again. Other highlights from Newmarket include the resurgence of the Henry Cecil yard which having slumped to 55 horses in 2006 is now back on the crest of the wave and totals some 140 inmates. Also entering the top ten numerical stables for the first time is William Haggas with 129 horses listed in training.

It’s not only the South and Newmarket where there are increases in stable strength however, the North also sees David Nicholls (following his name sake Paul Nicholls rise above the 100 barrier for the first time with his numbers up to 120. With Richard Fahey providing much of the firepower and impetus behind the title challenge of Champion Jockey Paul Hanagan it will be important for Fahey to maintain his numbers to support a repeat bid. That looks likely to happen as he has 119 horses aged three and over listed in training for 2011 and that doesn’t include what is likely to be a strong two year-old string.

Given those numbers, gold cup betting pundits believe we should once again see a titanic struggle for the Trainers’ Championship and the jockeys’ title with the chief protagonists Moore and Hanagan likely to be fighting it out gain. We may live in recessionary times but it appears to have made little impact on the training strength of the major flat yards in the country.

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