These days, top footballers earn untold riches from their sport. Several leading players and managers have used some of their cash to invest in horses and have enjoyed a considerable level of success in the racing world. Race horses are now firmly a feature of footballing life.
The former Manchester United manager has never been any stranger to controversy and this extends to his involvement in the sport of kings. Ferguson enjoyed a part-ownership of Rock of Gibraltar, the 2002 European Horse of the Year. He claimed that John Magnier had gifted the 50% stake in the horse to him. Magnier was a major shareholder in Manchester United at the time. Fergie subsequently demanded his share of the horse's lucrative stud fees. But Magnier insisted that these would remain with the Coolmore Stud. At the time he went to stud the horse was worth £200 million. However, Ferguson eventually settled for £2. 5 million. For a man who is not used to losing this must have been a bitter pill to swallow!
The ex-Liverpool striker is a serious racing aficionado and has founded. He has turned this into an impressive Group 1 level facility for trainer Tom Dascombe. Owen is extremely passionate about the sport and has an emotional attachment to his horses. He has been in tears after victories and considers some of his animals to be family pets. His former colleagues at Liverpool, Steve McManaman and Robbie Fowler also own race horses.
Channon was an outstanding goalscorer who netted 21 times for England and remains Southampton's all-time leading scorer. But he has become such a successful trainer that it could be argued that his equestrian exploits have eclipsed his success as a footballer. Mick Channon began his equestrian career as an assistant trainer but then gained his own license and quickly established himself as a leading trainer. He has achieved £millions in prize money for his owners and once enjoyed over 140 victories in a single season.
Racehorses have also proved popular with many leading overseas players. Spanish star Sergio Ramos opened a stud farm near Seville whilst Diego Maradona invested in several horses during the height of his fame which he tended to name after his teammates! German international Thomas Muller is married to a dressage rider and keeps several horses. He also owns a show jumper which Ludger Beerbaum has ridden.