George Hanlon dies aged 92
Racing has lost one of its true characters with the death of trainer George Hanlon at the age of 92.
Hanlon, who had been ill for some time, spent the past 18 months in a nursing home near Geelong where he died on Thursday.
Although he was at times vague, Hanlon was incredibly astute and lived his life for his horses.
He was renowned for his ability with stayers and had an enviable strike rate from a small team of around 15 horses at any one time.
In a career spanning more than 50 years, Hanlon trained the winners of most of Australia’s biggest races including three Melbourne Cups – Piping Lane (1972), Arwon (1978) and Black Knight (1984).
He trained his last Group One winner at the age of 83 when Mr Prudent won the 2001 Sydney Cup.
Hanlon was a proud inductee into the Australian Racing Hall Of Fame in 2002.
He began his career in South Australia under the guidance of Jim Cummings, father of Bart, and in 1946 was granted an owner-trainer licence.
Bart Cummings, who has gone on to train 12 Melbourne Cup winners, described Hanlon as his “greatest opponent in distance races”.
Hanlon trained for 35 years at his Correct Lodge stables at Epsom but he realised a dream to have his own training set-up when he moved to Leopold, near Geelong, in the mid-1980s.
Drawing on what he had seen at Newmarket in England, he mapped out gallops on his 40ha property and followed his horses in a four-wheel drive jeep, shouting instructions to the riders while monitoring his speedo.
Hanlon rated 1977 Cox Plate winner Family Of Man the best horse he had trained just ahead of Lawman.
Other greats included Taras Bulba, Gnapur, Prince Salieri, Our Pompeii, Bobalex, Royal Snack, Mr. Prudent, Our Sophia, Marjoleo and Bellition.
Hanlon’s funeral is expected to be held early next week.