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Sport stars hedging their bets

ESPN staff
March 14, 2013
Michael Owen and Sir Alex Ferguson are into their horse racing and appear at most races © PA Photos

With Cheltenham in full swing we take a look at which sport stars past and present have been successful (or not) away from what they specialise in.

Sir Alex Ferguson

The Manchester United boss has seen horses such as Harry the Viking and Empire Levant triumph - with the former being aimed at the Grand National following his run at the Festival on Thursday. It's not all been smooth sailing in the Sport of Kings for Ferguson as he became embroiled in a legal battle with John Magnier over stud rights for legendary Irish racehorse Rock Of Gibraltar. The suit was eventually settled out of court and there's no word on whether Magnier received the famous Fergie hairdryer treatment.

Michael Phelps

The 18-time Olympic swimming gold medallist would appear to be a bundle of energy. After leaving the pool he has tried his hand at golf and holed the longest putt ever recorded on TV from more than 150ft at last year's Dunhill Links Championship in Scotland. It would appear horse racing is also on his radar as he is the co-owner of a number of horses through the Team Valor partnership. We don't think Phelps is short of few dollars, but his colt Cerro pocketed $54,000 for a win a Gulfstream Park which could well pay for a few more golf lessons should he feel the need.

Michael Owen

The former Liverpool striker appeared to have the world at his feet when scoring that goal against Argentina in the 1998 World Cup. It didn't quite work out, although he can number Real Madrid, Manchester United and Newcastle United among his former clubs. In recent years, though, his focus has turned to an expanding bloodstock empire and he can boast a Royal Ascot winner in the shape of Brown Panther.

Andrew Flintoff

Pedalo racer, legendary drinker, clothes horses, Andrew Flintoff has any number of strings to his bow aside from being a pretty decent cricketer. He has a fondness for the turf and the horse of the same name once ran in the Grand National.

Wayne Rooney

It would appear Sir Alex's love of horse racing has rubbed off on his charges as Wayne Rooney, in partnership with a former Old Trafford player in John O'Shea, tasted victory for the first time with Yourartisonfire at Haydock last year. Now Haydock is pretty close to Old Trafford but it would appear Rooney had better things to do than watch his colt in action as he was on holiday in Los Angeles.

Eddie Jordan

Now Formula One pundit for the BBC, Eddie Jordan is all about horsepower having made it as high as Formula Two as a driver. Given his pedigree (yes the puns keep coming) it's no surprise that he was lured by the four-legged horsepower. In partnership with his wife, Jordan owned a classy horse by the name of Rostropovich. The son of Sadler's Wells can boast a win over 2006 Melbourne Cup winner Media Puzzle and Jordan once dashed back from an F1 race at Imola to see the horse win a race at Cork.

Kobe Bryant chooses to take time out from basketball by supporting his horse © PA Photos

Lee Westwood

The former world No. 1 golfer's career is threatening to fail to deliver that win at the highest level, but he could well pick up that major win on the turf given the success he has had already in partnership with manager Andrew 'Chubby' Chandler. Hoof It has provided a victory at Glorious Goodwood, while Westwood ducked away from the HSBC Golf Championship in Abu Dhabi earlier this year to see Rerouted score at Meydan.

Zara Phillips

Horse racing without royalty would not quite be the same. This one is a shade on the tenuous side, but let us run with it. Phillips is better known for her efforts in eventing and has won medals with Toytown but she could be celebrating Gold Cup glory on Friday. Well sort of, as her husband - former England rugby star Mike Tindall - is a part owner of Monbeg Dude who lines up in the blue riband event having won the Welsh National earlier this season.

Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant, he of NBA fame and a man who earns over $50 million a year, is not short of a few quid so it's likely his interest in horse racing is not a financial one. He's the co-owner of Siempre Mio, or to be correct we should say the former owner of Siempre Mio as the horse was taken off his hands by New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees after finishing second in a race at Hollywood Park (for the full story on this tale, click here).

Harry Redknapp

The QPR boss is a big fan of the turf and can often be found with a copy of the Racing Post by his side. As such, he is all too aware of the highs and lows of the sport and he tasted the lowest of the low in March 2012 when his horse Bygones In Brid suffered a fatal fall at Taunton.

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