Over the years, a number of famous footballers have gone into horse racing. Whether it is simply a way to spend those lucrative salaries or just an enjoyable pastime, more and more footballers are getting involved in the sport – as both owners and trainers. We take a look at just a few of the biggest players to make the transformation from the football field to the race course.
Wayne Rooney has a number of business ventures outside his football career and horse racing remains very close to his heart. Rooney owns Switcharooney, who failed to win any of his six starts in competitive action. In fact, the 6-year-old was retired in December and hadn’t run since finishing 7th over eight furlongs at Wolverhampton in 2013.
While Switcharooney has failed to make a major impact, it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see Rooney dip back into horse racing at some stage. The United striker is joint-owner of Announcement with Michael Carrick, Jonny Evans and John O’Shea and who knows, they could go on to enjoy a successful racing career in the coming years.
Perhaps the most famous footballer now owner is Michael Owen. The former Liverpool striker now owns an entire stable in Cheshire and could be a serious force in the sport in the not-so-distant future. While he’s still got a long way to emulate heroes Paul Nicholls and Willie Mullins, Owen is more than holding his own in the racing world.
Owen’s brightest prospect was Brown Panther but sadly, he suffered a fatal injury in the Irish St. Leger in September 2015. However, the England international will bounce back and it won’t be too long before another top youngster bursts onto the scene out of Owen’s upcoming stable.
Charlie Austin isn’t a household name associated with the sport but he’s certainly getting much bigger – especially since his exploits for Queens Park Rangers in the 2014-15 campaign. Austin owns Excel Racing, a company dedicated to the sport and the Southampton forward already has a number of winners on his books.
Austin’s main love will always be football but racing isn’t too far behind – in fact, he compared seeing one of his horses win to scoring a goal in front of his home supporters, which shows just how much he values and loves the sport. It’s important for a race horse owner to be passionate about the sport and if Austin’s passion transcends into his horses, he’s set for a very successful career.
Joey Barton is yet another modern footballer who has turned to the race course and he has an unusual method for naming his horses. Barton tends to name them after his favourite songs – for example, he has two (Crying Lightning and My Propeller) that are named after Arctic Monkeys tracks. An unusual but personal decision.
Barton isn’t trying to make his name in horse racing, it appears that the sport is very much a hobby for him. Who knows though, once his playing career is officially over, it wouldn’t be a major surprise to see Barton attempt to increase his portfolio in the sport.
Sir Alex Ferguson
The former Manchester United manager, who announced his retirement back in May 2013, has been involved in the horse racing scene for quite some time and is regularly spotted at major meetings – including the Cheltenham Festival and Grand National.
A few years back, Ferguson’s horse What a Friend burst onto the scene when winning at Aintree but nowadays, it’s the rather aptly-named Hairdryer that is building a reputation in the sport. If nothing else, Ferguson’s presence in horse racing has helped the sport to grow – especially with football fans across the world.