Famous faces have always been known to indulge in a day at the races and footballers are no exception to that. The sport of kings has been a popular hobby for some of the biggest footballing talents for decades as they regularly turn out for the biggest days on the racing calendar. But in recent decades players and managers alike have taken their interest to another level. Some have fallen in love with the sport so much so that they have subsequently invested some of their fortune into ownership. Owning a racehorse seems to have become another part of the footballer’s lifestyle. Here’s a look at some of the biggest names from European football getting involved in the world of horse racing.
Sir Alex Ferguson
United’s most famous and successful manager won everything in his 26 years in the dugout of Old Trafford. His record of 13 Premier League titles still stands today and might well never be beaten. But when combined with his two Champions Leagues in 1999 and 2008, along with five FA Cup triumphs and four League Cups, he will surely go down as the greatest manager of all time. He is undoubtedly a legendary manager and his accomplishments and love for the beautiful game is only rivaled by his fondness for the sport of kings. He has long been an owner of racehorses with some of his earliest horses being purchased in the late 1990s and early 2000s. One of the very first was Candleriggs, named after a street in his hometown Glasgow. Sadly for Fergie it didn’t bring much success but shortly after came one of the best horses to carry his red‐and‐white colours, Rock Of Gibraltar. The 2002 European Horse of the Year is perhaps the most famous the Scot has ever owned in large part due to the public dispute that ensued with owner John Magnier. In 2001 Ferguson claimed he was gifted a 50% stake in the horse by Magnier, who at the time also happened to be a significant shareholder at the Old Trafford club alongside associate J.P. McManus. The manager asked for his share of stud fees after the horse was valued at a massive £200 million following tremendous success. The disagreement was eventually settled for £2.5 million but the public spat caused enough tension in the United boardroom to convince the pair to sell the club to the current controversial owners, the Glazer family.
The 32-year-old French international is still playing football while maintaining his interest in the races and still looks to have plenty left in the tank before hanging up the boots. However, that has not seen his interest in horse racing wane in the slightest. The World Cup winner was indoctrinated with a love of the sport by his father and he has pursued that interest ever since. His venture into horse racing is not a passing hobby either though as the striker has gone into ownership and in fact enjoyed a great deal of success with it. He was at Chantilly in 2017 to see Enable win her first Arc de Triomphe title and since then he has become a familiar sight on the winners’ podium. His other horse Tornibush, trained in Lyon by Phillippe Decouz, has won four races, and Hooking was a winner at both Chantilly and Longchamp in 2021. The success doesn’t end there as Start Me Up won at Saint-Cloud in 2022 and he has also purchased a team of trotting horses as his devotion to the sport grows with each passing day. Who knows, people might even use their Cheltenham free bets 2024 on horses that Griezmann owns.
Michael Owen is known to be an avid fan of the races. He once said the thrill of a day at the races was the only thing that matched scoring a goal for club or country. It’s not all that surprising then that the former England International often attends some of horse racing’s biggest events. Since retiring from football he has been spotted on plenty of occasions at the track and even had a go in the saddle back in 2017 as part of a charity race. Owen rode Calder Prince finishing second at Ascot and his love of the sport has only grown since then. However he took his love affair to new heights back in 2006 when he founded his own stable in Cheshire, turning it into a Group one-calibre facility for his trainer Tom Dascombe. His affection for the sport is undeniable and has even brought him to tears, most notably when Brown Panther won the King George V Stakes at Royal Ascot in 2011. Owen hasn’t managed to match the level of success he enjoyed in his footballing career in the racing world, but it’s clear that it’s not all about that for the 43-year-old, his love of the sport is still as strong as ever.