Paul & Clare Rooney
Leading owners Paul and Clare made headlines in late 2018 when, in a letter reported to the Racing Post, they informed trainers not to enter their horses at Cheltenham Racecourse for fear of injury. In 2017, the Rooneys owned Willoughby Court, winner of the Neptune Investment Management Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, but subsequently lost two horses, Starchitect and Melrose Boy, who were both put down after sustaining injuries in races at the Gloucestershire track in December, 2017, and March, 2018, respectively. The couple reversed its decision in February, 2019 but, even so, still had no runners at the Cheltenham Festival in 2019.
Nevertheless, since they made their racecourse debut in January, 2012, the Rooneys’ blue and yellow racing colours have become a familiar sight, under both codes, on racecourses the length and breadth of Britain. Despite removing horses from Scottish trainer James Ewart in 2014, and their entire string, over 60 horses, from Cheshire trainer Donald McCain the following year, the couple still owns hundreds of horses in training with dozens of trainers, including Kim Bailey, Gordon Elliott, Harry Fry, Philip Hobbs, Ben Pauling and David Pipe. In 2016, they became seriously involved in Flat racing and recorded their first Group One winner, My Dream Boat, in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Paul Rooney prefers National Hunt racing, while his wife Clare, despite a background in eventing, prefers Flat racing. However, with a fortune estimated at £100 million – a substantial proportion of which has been invested in horse racing, under both codes, in recent seasons – the Rooneys seem certain to remain prominent owners in the discipline(s) on which they choose to concentrate for years to come. In National Hunt racing alone, in just over seven years’ involvement, the Rooneys have increased their total earnings from a respectable £13,000 in 2011/12, to over £600,000 in 2015/16, 2016/17, 2017/2018 and 2018/19. Indeed, their most recent Grade One winner in that sphere was If The Cap Fits, trained by Harry Fry, in the Liverpool Hurdle at Aintree om April 6, 2019.