Countdown to Cheltenham: Ten celebrity racehorse owners

Most of the attention in the run up to the Cheltenham Festival is currently on the horses set to compete in races such as the Gold Cup and Ladbrokes World Hurdle.

Being one of the biggest meetings on the racing calendar, though, means that some famous names will turn a few heads at the course.

Over 200,000 visitors will head to Cheltenham Racecourse for the four-day event, seeing 27 different races take place.

Many will head to Gloucestershire just to soak up the amazing atmosphere, place a few bets and just have a good time, but a select few will travel in the hope that their horses will win some of the big prizes on offer.

Anyone who follows horse racing will be familiar with the work of world-class trainers including Paul Nicholls and Nicky Henderson, but to do what they do best, they need financial clout.

With the help of racehorse owners, trainers can devote their time to turning horses into champions. Some racehorse owners need a lot of money to finance their passion for the sport.

Among the many owners who have a stake in some of the runners at Cheltenham this year are celebrities. Stars from the worlds of sport, media, music, film and business have at least a stake in some horses.

Here is a selection of famous racehorse owners:

Sir Alex Ferguson

In a managerial career spanning over three decades, Ferguson has won it all, but the Manchester United boss also has a big passion for racing.

Ferguson owns a share in Harry The Viking, who is a 40/1 shot for this year’s Grand National, and used to own a share in Rock of Gibraltar, who ran in United’s colours.

Queen Elizabeth II

The Royal Family have a long history of involvement in all things equine, especially Princess Anne and Zara Phillips. The Queen Mother was a huge fan of racing and came close to winning the Grand National as an owner in 1956 only for Devon Loch to inexplicably lose when his legs gave way on the final straight.

Queen Elizabeth II is often seen handing out some of the biggest trophies in the sport and could well be overseeing presentations at Cheltenham this year. Her racing pedigree includes having four winners during Royal Ascot in 1957.

MC Hammer

The former rapper, famous for his massive hit ‘U Can’t Touch This’ has faded from the limelight, finding God among other things.

What you may not know about MC Hammer is that he too was a racehorse owner. His Oaktown Stable had 19 horses including Lite Light, who won several Grade I meetings in the US.

Michael Owen

The Stoke City striker is even more passionate about horseracing than his former manager Ferguson – and given his injury record of late, he has been able to devote more time to it than perhaps he would have liked.

Owen owned Treble Heights, who won a few minor races in his time, has set up a racing stable in Cheshire and is regular spotted at some big meetings.

Steven Spielberg

Another surprising celebrity with connections to the sport, the multi-award winning film director owns part of Atswhatimtalkingabout, who mainly races in the US.

Mick Channon

Another star from the world of football, Channon was a part of the Southampton side who won the FA Cup in 1976 and represented England nearly 50 times.

Channon has become a successful trainer of horses since retiring in the late 1980s including Samitar, who won the Irish 1,000 Guineas last year.

Wayne Rooney

The Manchester United and England ace has followed in Ferguson’s footsteps and stepped into the racing arena. He part owns Yourartisonfire, who won at Haydock last July, and owns Pippy, Tomway and the imaginatively-named Switcharooney.

Eddie Jordan

Former owner of the Jordan F1 team, the Irish millionaire once dabbled in horse racing, being joint-owner of Rostropovich. He can still be seen at all the big events including Cheltenham as an interested spectator.

Hugh Bonneville

The star of Downton Abbey is part-owner of two horses in a syndicate with the Highclere Thoroughbred Racing stable. Both are expected to be up to racing standard in the near future.

Kevin Costner

The award-winning actor and director has stakes in several racehorses who compete at Hollywood Park course in California. Costner does it more as a hobby than anything else.