Sir Alex Ferguson targets Cheltenham Gold Cup win to cap remarkable career

He has held the Premier League trophy aloft 13 times, lifted the FA Cup on five occasions and got his hands on the European Cup twice.

But one iconic trophy would put the seal on one of sport's most remarkable careers.

For three decades, Sir Alex Ferguson’s passion for horse racing has run parallel with his peerless professional achievements.

As an owner, he has enjoyed success at the highest level on the flat but his triumphs with Rock Of Gibraltar became horribly soured by the unseemly wrangle with the all-powerful proprietors of the Coolmore operation.

His falling out with John Magnier had far-reaching repercussions, not least for Manchester United , and broke bonds between Ferguson and some of the most influential characters in Flat racing.

But his love of the sport does not seem to have dimmed and his enthusiasm for the jumps game is unbridled.

Which is why there will be no happier soul at Prestbury Park on Friday if Clan Des Obeaux can land the Festival’s blue riband finale and Ferguson can get a hand on that iconic trophy that is the Cheltenham Gold Cup .

“I can’t imagine what he would be like,” laughed Paul Nicholls, trainer of Clan Des Obeaux. “When Give Me A Copper won the Badger Beers, you would have thought Sir Alex had just won the FA Cup again.”

The ‘Badger Beers’ is a handicap chase run at Wincanton and is worth £34,000 to the winner.

Small beer compared to the prestige of The Gold Cup.

Give Me A Copper won that Wincanton race in Ferguson’s red and white colours but Clan Des Obeaux will line up in the silks of one of Nicholls’ principal supporters – and landlord – Paul Barber.

Along with Manchester-based businessman Ged Mason, Ferguson makes up the trio who own Clan Des Obeaux, a well-fancied 7-1 for the Gold Cup.

“Ged and Paul are the main owners but Alex has a share and loves it,” says Nicholls. “If Clan wins the Gold Cup, it would be amazing.

“It is great to have Alex on board. We have been friends for a long while and when he was working, he said I could call him any time, day or night, if I ever needed any
advice. When I was having a bit of hassle with jockeys, I spoke to him and it was helpful to have all his experience.

“He loves this game and he loves winners.”

Ferguson has kept out of the public eye recently, having been on the long road to recovery from a life-threatening brain haemorrhage. But he is sure to be at Cheltenham with Mason, Nicholls and Barber.

Sir Alex and Ged are long-time friends with Mason a lifelong Manchester United fanatic.

“I’m a red through and through,” Mason once said. “I was weaned on George Best and Denis Law. How could you not be hooked on it after that?”

Mason has made his money through a successful recruitment business that annually turns over a billion pounds and has co-owned horses with Ferguson for many years.

When Ferguson became embroiled in that argument over Rock Of Gibraltar, which won seven Group One Flat races on the spin, it seemed to be about principles and money.

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