A former top-class footballer or a current top-class racehorse trainer? The answer to that question will depend on your age or your sporting preference. The truth, though, is that Mick Channon is both.
A Southampton and England striker, Channon sparkled on the football pitch in the 70s and 80s. Having retired in 1987, he turned to his hobby for a second career, setting up on his own in Lambourn in 1989 and then, ten years later, moving on to the historic West Ilsley stables (formerly owned by The Queen). He has since become a regular top-six finisher in the British Flat trainers’ championship, topping the 100-winner-a-season mark most years.
His training career took off in 1994 when Piccolo won the Group 1 Nunthorpe Stakes. Training a large string of horses, he has since gained a reputation for handling juvenile fillies.
But his recent flagbearer was Youmzain – costing £33,000, he banked over £3 million in prize money. He could not quite fulfil Channon’s dream of winning a really big prize, though, coming second in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, France’s biggest race, three times. His latest Group 1 victory came in 2012 when he saddled Samitar to win the Irish 1000 Guineas.
Channon, badly injured in a car crash in 2008, still retains his footballing links. He has trained horses called Osgood and Alfraamsey. Indeed, Channon has compared training horses to football management, with one big difference – horses don’t talk back.
He has yet to land a QIPCO British Champions Series race but perhaps might do so with Harlequeen, third in the 2016 Investec Oaks.