With some exciting action at Cheltenham over the autumn period, and a great flat racing season full of entertainment that upset the horse racing betting sites, 2021 has been an enthralling year for racing fans, especially when you consider how badly affected the early months of the calendar were when coronavirus restrictions overshadowed virtually every big achievement.
Thankfully, races behind closed doors and empty stands look to be a thing of the past for now, and normality can resume as we approach the end of the year. There is still plenty to play for and you only need to look at Rachael Blackmore’s achievements in the Novices’ Chase to see how much potential the end of the calendar has. For all Blackmore’s good work, the horse owner’s contribution can often go overlooked. Whether it be due to a lack of coverage or the lack of prestige around the races, sometimes they simply don’t get the credit they deserved.
However, there are sometimes opportunities for well known owners to put their name in the headlines and with that in mind, here are five celebrity horse racing owners are how they managed to get on.
Sir Alex Ferguson
Most known for his action in the Old Trafford dugout, former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has always been a big racing fan, who became an owner in 2005. His horse Rock Of Gibraltar, whom he part owned alongside Susan Magnier, the wife of a former United shareholder, was trained by Aidan O’Brien in Ireland and boasts wins in the 2000 Guineas.
When the horse was retired, Ferguson entered legal battles with Magnier which were eventually settled but helped to strengthen the relationship between Ferguson and the Glazer family, who were close to completing their purchase of United.
The Scots current standout horse, Clan Des Obeaux, ended last season with a victory in the Bowl at Aintree before landing the prestigious Punchestown Gold Cup in Ireland. So, he’s one to watch again this season.
Over to the States now and few would have expected musician MC Hammer to have developed an interest in horse racing, but after establishing Oaktown Stables, he went on to own 19 different thoroughbreds. He may have gone on to file for bankruptcy a few years later but his plethora of top-notch horses earnt him a victory in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes and a third-place finish in the Kentucky Derby.
Horse racing seems to be a popular pastime over at Old Trafford, as former Liverpool, Newcastle and Manchester United forward Michael Owen took an interest in the late 2000s. Now based in Cheshire, he and former United team mate Wayne Rooney have co owned two horses at Owen’s Manor House Stables, whilst on an individual basis Owen saw his 16/1 Flaming Rib defy the odds at York this summer as well as previous wins on Ladies’ Day at Royal Ascot.
The Oscar winning director also ran in the Kentucky Derby with his horse hilariously named Atswhatimtalkingabout back in 2003, showing that his interest in horses doesn’t just stem from directing War Horse with Jeremy Irvine. He also managed a runner up in the Del Mar Futurity, a Group One race held in California.
From the big screen to the kitchen as celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal, most known for his experimental recipes, part owns four horses in Newbury — Director, Magnum, Acolyte and Parish. Working with Highclere Thoroughbred Racing, the chef entered the Gold Cup and Coronation but to little success bar an unexpected victory in Dubai courtesy of Acolyte.