1,000th winner for US jumps legend Sheppard
Report: USA, Saturday
Monmouth Park: Helen Haskell Sampson Stakes (Grade 1 hurdle) 2m4f, 4yo+
TRAINER Jonathan Sheppard, a legendary figure in US jumping circles, reached a significant milestone on Saturday when he became the first trainer to send out 1,000 jump winners in the States.
Jonathan Sheppard: jumps legendPICTURE: Edward Whitaker
Hertfordshire-born Sheppard, 69, recorded the landmark success with ex-Irish-trained Arcadius in the Grade 1 Helen Haskell Sampson Stakes, one of three hurdles on the Saturday card at Monmouth Park in New Jersey.
Sent off 17-10 favourite, the winner was partneredby Irish rider Brian Crowley, who also landed a $70,000 novice hurdle earlier on the card on Easy Red for trainer Tom Voss.
The son of a racing official, Sheppard began training in America in 1966 because British rules did not permit family members of racing officials to train for outside clients.
US champion jumps trainer on 24 occasions, Sheppard is regarded as the greatest jumps trainer of all-time in the States, where he was elected to the Hall of Fame as long ago as 1990.
He trained Flatterer, a four-time Eclipse Award winner, to finish second to See You Then in the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham in 1987.
"One thousand wins means I've done something nobody else has done," said Sheppard, who has also trained several Grade 1 winners on the Flat, including Breeders' Cup winners Forever Together and Informed Decision.
Reaching the 1,000-winner mark is a particularly noteworthy achievement given the shortage of opportunities in the States, where jump racing is very much a poor relation. Indeed, there were a total of only 168 jump races there in 2008.
Sheppard added: "I knew I was in range, but I honestly thought I wouldn't be able to get there until next year. Thankfully, everything has fallen into place this year, and we've gotten a little lucky."
Arcadius, a six-year-old gelding, was a winner over hurdles at Tramore in May 2008 for former trainer John Halley. He won the Sampson by a length over Slip Away, whom he wore down in the closing stages.
"I ride this horse every morning, I'm with him for his schooling," said Crowley. "He placed in two Grade 1 races and now wins this. He's been feeling like a million dollars."