Alec Taylor Sr. (1821/3-1894) was an English racehorse trainer who in 1870 established the surviving famous Manton training stables on the Marlborough Downs in Wiltshire, one of the finest training centres in the country. He was considered one of the best trainers of his era and during his career of about 50 years he won a total of 12 classics, ending in 1887 with Reve d’Or at the Oaks and 1000 Guineas, together with wins in numerous other important English races.
Alec Taylor was born in 1823 at Kirkby Lonsdale in Yorkshire, the son of Thomas Taylor (“Tom”) whose own father had served as a racehorse trainer to Philip Stanhope, 5th Earl of Chesterfield (1755–1815). Tom soon moved to Murton near York to serve as stud groom to the prominent but corrupt breeder Robert Ridsdale (1783–1857), who had himself started his career as a groom and made a fortune in bookmaking which allowed him to acquire a string of racehorses. In association with John Gulley (like himself a “rags-to-riches figure”, a tavern-keeper, boxer and bookmaker – but in addition a Member of Parliament) Ridsdale won the 1832 Derby with St Giles. However, soon after Ridsdale suffered financial difficulties and in about 1836 Tom Taylor moved to Bretby Hall in Derbyshire to work as the private racehorse trainer and stud manager for George Stanhope, 6th Earl of Chesterfield (1805–1866) (the son of his father’s former employer) and eventually set up on his own account as a trainer at Newmarket.