Famous racehorse owners and winners

Rock of Gibraltar

by JACK ROSE OWNING a horse can be a lucrative business, provided you invest in the right horse and know which trainer will get the best out of your horse. Many footballers invest their earnings in horses in the hope that they can increase their wealth, and while some have been successful, others have suffered multiple failures. Famous racehorse owners are not just limited to footballers though, as even some members of the royal family own horses.

Famous horses like Red Rum and Party Politics have produced lucrative results from a bet on the Grand National although not quite as lucrative as the likes of Mon Mome in 2009 and Auroras Encore in 2013 who were both priced at over 50/1.

We start with Sir Alex Ferguson, who built a legacy over twenty-six years at Premier League club Manchester United. He took his first steps in the horse racing world back in the early 2000s when he became joint owner of Rock of Gibraltar with Sue Magnier, wife of horse breeder John Magnier. The horse had a lot of success, winning ten of the 13 races and was ridden by Michael Kinane. Rock of Gibraltar last raced in October 2002, finishing second out of 14 horses.

While Sir Alex enjoyed much success, the striker he signed for Manchester United in 2004, Wayne Rooney, has had a nightmare owning horses. Rooney bought Pippy and Switcharooney, but unfortunately for the former England international, between them they only managed to win one race.  This did not put him off spending his money on horses and in 2014 he bought into Announcement with some of his then United team-mates. Announcement did not fare much better however, winning only two of her seventeen races, placing in another three.

Not only could Rooney learn a thing or two from his former boss, but he could also have done with some advice from former club and international team-mate Michael Owen, who set up the Manor House Stables back in 2007 and is where racehorse trainer Tom Dascombe operates. By mid-2009 the facilities were able to accommodate 90 horses and it was in this facility that Brown Panther, his most successful horse, was trained. The highlight was the King George V Stakes at Royal Ascot in 2011 but he won many other races including the 2013 Goodwood Cup and the 2015 Dubai Gold Cup.

The Royal Family are arguably the most famous racehorse owners of all and the Queen inherited her love of racing from her mother, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, having owned a large number of horses, including Dunkirk, who won the Champion Chase at the 1965 Cheltenham Festival. The Queen’s horses have managed to win all but one of the five British Classics, the exception being the Epsom Derby. The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall also have a love of horse racing and owned Royal Superlative, who won one race from seven runs. Although you’ll see the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge at horse racing events, they have yet to follow their family in owning a racehorse.

One thought on “Famous racehorse owners and winners”

  1. Graham Oliver says:

    Hi Jack,
    Possibly the most famous owner, outside of the Royal family, was Sir Winston Churchill. He didn’t own his first racehorse until he was seventy five years old, in 1949. That horse was Colonist 11. Colonist 11 won thirteen races and finished second behind Pan 11 in the Ascot Gold Cup. Colonist is probably best knowen as the sire of Stalbridge Colonist, conqueror of Arkle and What A Myth in the 1966 Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury. Of Colonist 11, on his retirement to stud, Churchill is quoted as having said in jest: ‘To stud, and have it said that the Prime Minister of Great Britain was living on the immoral earnings of a horse?’. Colonist 11 was sold to stand at the Sandringham Stud.
    Other horses that Sir Winston owned included Dark Issue, who won the 1955 Irish 1000 Guineas, Vienna, who was placed in two Coronation Cups and the St Leger, and became the sire of Vaguely Noble, winner of the 1968 Arc from Sir Ivor. Another top class runner that he owned was High Hat, who won the Aly Khan Memorial Trophy at Kempton Park, beating Petite Etoile, owned by Prince Aly’s son, the present Aga Khan. High Hat later ran fourth to Molvedo in the Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe behind Molvedo.
    All in all, Sir Winston owned the winners of seventy one races. He gave up ownership in 1964, telling his trainer, Walter Nightingall, that, owing to his declining health, he could no longer go racing.He died the following year at the age of ninety.
    Another famous owner was the American crooner, Bing Crosby, who had a half share in the 1965 Irish Derby and King George winner, Meadow Court.
    In America, there have been many celebrity owners,amongst whom there has been Telly Savalas, the actor Jack Klugman, Herb Alpert, Burt Bacharach, and Steven Spielberg. There have been many more.

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