When it comes to a footballer’s spare time, only sourcing WAGs and eating in Nando’s can compete with the attraction of horse racing. With plenty of money in their hip pocket and most afternoons off, it’s perhaps no surprise that pros are drawn to the world of horse racing. Yet unlike most punters who merely bet on the nags, footballers are able to afford to actually buy them.
In the next week, lucky sport fans get to enjoy the FA Cup quarter-finals, followed by the Cheltenham Festival. To celebrate, Unibet have come up with a unique offer. Bet £20 on a first goalscorer selection in any of this weekend’s FA Cup matches and we’ll give you a £10 risk free bet on the first day of the Cheltenham Festival on Tuesday 12th March.
In the meanwhile, let’s whet your appetite for both events by profiling the footballers who are in love with the world of horse racing.
This year’s Grand National will be graced by Sir Alex Ferguson’s horse, Harry the Viking. Trained by Paul Nicholls, Harry the Viking’s involvement will mean that Fergie has a busy weekend - the Grand National takes place on the same as the Manchester derby.
Ferguson has owned horses for ten years, including Rock of Gibraltar, over whom the Manchester United boss become embroiled in a much-publicised legal case.
When most footballers stop playing, they start coaching other footballers. Micky Quinn bucked the trend and started to train horses.
Having applied for and lost out on the Burnley job in 1996, the tubby goalscorer quit football and became a racehorse trainer. He now has stables in Newmarket, Suffolk.
Another footballer to swap football for horse racing was the former England striker Mick Channon. Starting as an assistant trainer in 1986, Channon went solo in 1990 and has become one of the most respected trainers around.
In 2012 the Channon-trained Samitar won the 1000 Guineas. Channon has trained horses for many of his old football pals, including Alex Ferguson, Alan Ball and Kevin Keegan.
Steve McManaman and Robbie Fowler
McManaman and Fowler weren’t just partners in crime on the football pitch. They were also team-mates at the track, co-owning a number of horses through their company named The Macca and Growler Partnership.
The most famous of their horses was Seebald, which won the 2003 Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Celebration Chase.
Another former team-mate of McManaman and Fowler from their Liverpool days, has made an even greater investment in the sport of horse racing. Owen is a part-owner of Manor House Stables, where trainer Tom Dascombe plies his trade.
Wayne Rooney owns two horses which are trained at Owen’s stables. Many critics have questioned whether his appetite for horse racing has had a detrimental effect on his career and it certainly seems more likely that Owen will devote himself to his stables, rather than the managerial dugout, when he hangs up his boots.
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