New York Turf Writers Cup renamed after 24-time steeplechase champ
USA: Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1990, Jonathan Sheppard is a legendary figure in US steeplechasing circles, where he is the leading trainer of all time in both victories and prize-money.
Sheppard, 80, announced his retirement in early January after 55 years with a licence and over 1,000 winners over jumps and 3,200 on the Flat, where his G1 wins include a pair of Breeders’ Cup races (in addition to his four wins in what used to be known as the Breeders’ Cup Chase). He has been leading jumps trained 24 times, including an unbroken 18-year period from 1973-90.
Born in Hertfordshire in 1940, it is also worth noting how close he came to victory on jump racing’s biggest stage 34 years ago when four-time US champion Flatterer chased home See You Then in the 1987 Champion Hurdle.
He never did train a winner in his native land, but his exploits in his adopted country are to be recognised at Saratoga where a G1 jumps race is to be renamed in his honour.
Henceforth the New York Turf Writers Cup will be known as the Jonathan Sheppard. It seems appropriate: Sheppard won the race 15 times. He trained at least one winner at Saratoga every consecutive year from 1969-2015; he was leading trainer overall at the famous venue in 1984 and 1985.