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Spirit Dancer bids to give Sir Alex Ferguson another memorable sporting triumph

3 minute read

Sir Alex Ferguson is hoping to add to his already jampacked trophy cabinet as Spirit Dancer takes on thirteen rivals in a top-class renewal of the Bahrain International Trophy at Sakhir Racecourse.

SPIRIT DANCER (C, red cap) winning the Strensall Stakes at York in England.
SPIRIT DANCER (C, red cap) winning the Strensall Stakes at York in England. Picture: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

Although more famous for his legendary managerial days with Manchester United, Sir Alex Ferguson is no stranger to racing success and he'll be hoping Spirit Catcher can provide him with yet another lucrative prize, as he bids to land the $1 million Bahrain International Trophy at Sakhir Racecourse on Friday.

The Richard Fahey-trained progressive six-year-old gained automatic entry to the valuable mile-and-a-quarter prize with a comfortable success in the Group 3 Strensall Stakes at York's Ebor meeting, before going on to finish a creditable fourth in the Earthlight Darley Stakes at Newmarket last month.

Fourteen runners have been declared for the Bahrain International Trophy, with the likes of Group 1 winner Above The Curve lining up alongside Point Lonsdale, Nations Pride and defending champion Dubai Future.

However, Ferguson, who will be present at Sakhir Racecourse to watch his son of Frankel run tomorrow, admits ownership in racing is very different compared to his management days.

In an interview with Racing TV's Raceday, "I can't tell a horse what to do, whereas at least I could tell players what to do so in that respect, I am not a critical judge at all.

"To be honest, I think my competitive element was left in football. I never question the racing trainer or get upset if the horse loses as this is a different sport for me.

"I enjoy being there. Of course, if you win, then it is really enjoyable being there, particularly at the big races."

On how Ferguson got into racing, he added: "I first went racing at Cheltenham during an international break one year – and from then on, I was hooked.

"The route I got into racing was through my father, he was a great horse fan. He used to have his Timeform book every Saturday morning, looking through all the information you could get about every race.

"I didn't really take it up, in terms of ownership at least, until 1997/98 when there was an international break. I said to my wife "Why don't we go to the racing?" Where did you get that from, she said. We went to Cheltenham, and I got hooked on it.

"We bought a horse with [former trainer] Jack Berry and from there on, I now have 32 horses! It is a fantastic sport in terms of a release for me away from football."

Ferguson already has great admiration for his Frankel gelding, who was the first product of his Upperwood Farm Stud in Hemel Hempstead.

He continued: "I have started a stud down in Hemel Hempstead and he was the first product of the stud - with [the help of] Frankel and Queen's Dream. We have done well, one or two have done very well."

Spirit Dancer may have a touch to find with some of his competitors on official ratings, but with track and conditions to suit, trainer Richard Fahey is hopeful of a good run. "The target all season was Bahrain because it's a million-dollar race and a good opportunity in trip, track and everything will suit,"

"He's a very laid-back horse. When you go on about international runners, you've got to pick the right horse and this horse's mind is great and I'm sure he'll probably drive the plane back on the way home because he's just so laid back. There's no issues with him at all."

Racing and Sports