New prime minister Theresa May has owned a winner on the racecourse
PICTURE: Getty Images
By Mark Scully and John Randall 6:30PM 13 JUL 2016
SHOULD Theresa May and the Queen tire of discussing matters of state at their weekly meetings they can always turn to talk of the turf, as the new prime minister, in common with the monarch, has enjoyed victory as a racehorse owner.
May’s predecessor David Cameron was an outspoken supporter of racing and described the industry as “a massive success story” on an unexpected trip to Newmarket in February 2015, when he spent a morning on the gallops with John Gosden.
In May, racing would appear to have another ally in the corridors of power, as she and her husband Philip enjoyed two victories at Lingfield in the 1990s courtesy of a grey gelding named Dome Patrol, in which the pair were part of a syndicate with a small group of friends.
Then trained by William Muir, Dome Patrol first scored at the Surrey track in the 7f Class F Columbus Claiming Stakes, justifying 7-4 favouritism under Kim McDonnell in March 1994.
His second victory came with Jason Weaver doing the honours the following January, stepped up in trip to a 1m1y handicap and scoring at 10-1.
More than two decades have passed since then but Muir remembers May’s trips to the races with fondness.
“She came racing twice with her husband – they were in a small syndicate with a few other people from London,” Muir recalls.
“They were introduced to the yard by an old owner of mine called Duncan Wiltshire, who has unfortunately since passed away.
“Dome Patrol did okay for them – he wasn’t a world-beater but he did win us a couple of races.
“She was always very, very pleasant when she was at the races and always very nice when I met her.
Successful prime ministers in racing
The most notable racehorse-owning prime minister in living memory was Sir Winston Churchill.
Churchill owned Colonist, a popular grey who won the Jockey Club Cup in 1950, but sold him before his stud career, saying he did not wish to live off the immoral earnings of a horse.
A month after the end of Churchill’s peacetime premiership, in 1955, he won the Irish 1,000 Guineas with Dark Issue and his best horse was Welsh Abbot, who defied top weight in a dazzling all-the-way five-length victory in the 1958 Portland Handicap.
He also owned Tudor Monarch, the 1959 Stewards’ Cup winner; Vienna, third in the 1960 St Leger and sire of the great Vaguely Noble; and High Hat.
The 3rd Duke of Grafton, prime minister from 1768 to 1770, later scored five Classic victories as an owner – three in the Derby and two in the Oaks. The 14th Earl of Derby, PM for three spells between 1852 and 1868, never won the race named after his grandfather but did have four Classic victories.
The 5th Earl of Rosebery, the only owner to win the Derby while prime minister, won both runnings of the race during his 15 months in office (1894-95) with Ladas and Sir Visto, and he won it for a third time with Cicero in 1905. He owned the winners of 11 Classics in all.
The 2nd Marquess of Rockingham won the world’s very first Classic, the 1776 St Leger, with Allabaculia, between two spells as prime minister.
Viscount Palmerston failed to win a Classic – his colt Mainstone was unplaced in the 1860 Derby, during the second of his two spells as PM – but did win the Cesarewitch with Iliona in 1841 and the Ascot Stakes with Buckthorn in 1853.