Paul (far right) and Clare Rooney (far left) are prominent owners now
PICTURE: John Grossick (racingpost.com/photos)
By David Ashforth 6:00PM 13 DEC 2016
IF AN owner runs enough horses, his colours join the ranks of the recognised. Five years ago blue and yellow quartered silks, with striped sleeves and quartered cap had yet to be seen. Now most followers of racing know that they belong to Paul and Clare Rooney.
Since making their debut in January 2012, the Rooneys’ colours have appeared at every racecourse in Britain apart from Beverley and Epsom.
On Wednesday their colours will be at Newbury (2.00 Three Faces West), Musselburgh (12.00 Pot Committed and 2.15 Cape Of Glory) and Kempton (4.40 My Aussie Rules). I’m not sure where the Rooneys will be. I’d guess Musselburgh.
At the end of the 2012/13 jumps season the Rooneys were 113th in the owners’ table, the next season 26th, then 13th and last season fourth. At the moment they lie second, behind only JP McManus. They have had 43 winners at a strike rate of 25 per cent. They are everywhere.
Sailing to success
This year was the first that the Rooneys became seriously involved on the Flat. Their 21 winners from 108 runners included My Dream Boat’s success in the Group 1 Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Since splitting with Donald McCain last year, they have spread their horses widely. This year 13 trainers have had runners for them on the Flat and so far this jumps season 23 trainers have represented them, including Gordon Elliott in Ireland. With Jason Maguire, the most successful jockey for them, now advising the Rooneys, they have done particularly well.
Their training bills must be colossal so it is just as well that they have wealth to match. Paul Rooney, 69, is the sole shareholder in Arun Estate Agencies Ltd which according to Companies House website made a post-tax profit of over £25 million in the two years ended September 2015. So their trainers can be pretty sure of having their bills paid and, equally important, of the Rooneys’ interest in racing enduring.
Some wealthy owners enjoy the attention and prestige and sometimes, in a sport where defeat is more common than victory and setbacks inevitable, their enthusiasm fades.
The Rooneys don’t invite attention and their enthusiasm for horses – Clare has a background in eventing – seems certain to last. I’ve no idea how their runners today will fare but they are not the only ones to consider.
The usual suspects
There is Professor Plum (1.10 Musselburgh) to consider, too. I can’t remember whether it was Professor Plum who committed murder with a candlestick in the ballroom, or Colonel Mustard who did it with a piece of lead pipe in the conservatory.
Those Cluedo games were a long time ago and several of the suspects have since become racehorses. Colonel Mustard won for James Fanshawe and Pat Murphy, Mrs Peacock for Tim Vaughan and the Reverend Green for Kevin Ryan, hopefully without killing anyone. Go on, Prof.