Who was John Porter?

Who was John Porter?  Born in Rugeley, Staffordshire in 1838, John Porter was a hugely successful trainer of the Victorian and Edwardian eras. All told, he saddled 1,063 winners, including 23 Classic winners, and won the Triple Crown on three separate occasions, with Ormonde (1886), Common (1891) and Flying Fox (1899).

Porter began his training career when recruited by Sir Joseph Henry Hawley, a.k.a. the ‘Lucky Baronet’, to replace George Manning as private trainer at Cannon Heath, near Kingsclere, Hampshire in 1863. Four years later, Hawley built a new yard at Kingsclere and when he died in 1875, offered Porter, in his will, the opportunity to buy the estate at half its original price. Unsurprisingly, Porter did so and wasted little time in transforming Kingsclere into a state-of-the-art training establishment.

Porter also co-founded Newbury Racecourse and served as managing director of Newbury Racecourse Company, which was formed in April, 1904, after his proposals for a new venue were finally accepted by the Jockey Club. Porter is commemorated at the Berkshire course by the John Porter Stakes, which was inaugurated in 1928 and, in its current guise, is a Group Three contest for four-year-olds and upwards over 1 mile 4 furlongs, run in April. Ironically, for all his success as a trainer, Porter only ever saddled one winner at Newbury, retiring from the training ranks within a month or two of the course staging its first meeting in September, 1905.