The Cheltenham Festival is upon us and although racing is the main event, you may see a few other famous sporting faces in the crowd this week.
From Conor McGregor of the UFC to Dave Allen of boxing, sports stars can’t get enough of racing, and there are plenty of professional footballers who have tried their hand at the sport.
Let’s take a look at 18 football figures who have been involved in horse racing.
Perhaps the most famous modern footballer involved in racing is Michael Owen.
The former Liverpool and England striker is the founder of Manor House Stables, which has a capacity for more than 90 horses, many of which are owned by Owen himself.
Owen has had a lot of success in the racing world, perhaps most notably with the Brown Panther winning the Irish St Ledger in 2014.
Sir Alex Ferguson
It’s no secret that Sir Alex Ferguson loves his horses, and has been a successful owner himself over the years.
The Scotsman has had many winning horses, but two of the most successful were Clan Des Obeaux, two-time winner of King George, and the infamous Rock of Gibraltar, winner of 2,000 Guineas.
Ferguson has a chance to win a Gold Cup this year with Protektorat, who will be looking to triumph in the biggest race of the week.
Charlie Austin is one of the most knowledgeable footballers when it comes to horse racing.
The QPR striker actually hosted the Studs Up Podcast with Oli Bell, where he had a series of informed discussions about racing with numerous guests.
Austin himself is a co-founder of Excel Racing and owns several horses.
Mick Channon is undoubtedly the most successful multi-sport figure when it comes to football and racing.
Over 700 league appearances and 46 caps for England make him an incredibly decorated and accomplished footballer, but his achievements on the racecourse are just as impressive.
Channon has trained numerous stakes winners, while having trained over 100 winners in a season on eight separate occasions.
Former Newcastle United striker Micky Quinn also had a fairly successful career as a horse racing coach.
Sadly, the former Coventry striker had to end his 25-year coaching career earlier this year due to financial problems.
Joey Barton and Claudio Pizarro
Now this is an odd couple.
Former Bayern Munich striker Claudio Pizarro actually co-owned a horse called Crying Lightning with former QPR midfielder Joey Barton, even though they had never played together.
We’re not sure where they met, but they apparently hit it off well enough to go on this adventure together.
Alvaro Odriozola and Thomas Muller
Another couple linked to Pizarro, Thomas Muller and Alvaro Odriozola, became involved in Pizarro’s affair after meeting at Bayern Munich.
“We have a filly with Tom Clover named Thebeautifulgame,” Pizarro said. “That is with Álvaro, Thomas Muller and another friend from Bayern.
“She has raced four times, won once and came second, everything has gone well, she is a good filly. Mrs. Muller likes dressage and Thomas is more into horse racing, not really “in”, but he gets close. Maybe he’ll be here next year at Ascot, we’ll see. I will bring it!”
Wayne Rooney may have won just about everything there is to win in football, but he’s not the most successful person on this list when it comes to horse racing.
Rooney, along with his wife, invested £200,000 in two horses named Pippy and Switcherooney, but only won one race between them.
Rooney may have more England goals to his name than Michael Owen, but the former Liverpool ace is arguably the more successful of the two in the equine world.
Chris Wood, Jack Cork, Matt Lowton, Ben Mee, Charlie Taylor, Ashley Westwood, and James Tarkowski
Chris Wood and Jack Cork, along with Cork’s wife, are partners in the More Turf Racing syndicate, a syndicate that includes none other than Michael Owen among its trainers.
Other Burnley players are also involved in this adventure, such as Matt Lowton, Ben Mee, Charlie Taylor, Ashley Westwood and James Tarkowski, but it is headed by Cork and Wood.
We have to wonder if More Turf’s name will be changed in light of Wood’s recent move to Newcastle.
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