The green and gold silks of John Patrick “J.P.” McManus are familiar throughout the world of National Hunt racing, on both sides of the Irish Sea, but perhaps nowhere more so than the Cheltenham Festival, where they’ve been carried to victory no fewer than 53 times. McManus, who has a net worth of €2.1 billion, is reputed to have collected £250,000 in a single bet when Mister Donovan won what is now the Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle in 1982, and hasn’t looked back since.
The Limerick-born Irishman has won the Champion Hurdle seven times, with Istabraq three times, in 1998, 1999 and 2000, Binocular in 2010, Jezki in 2014 and Buveur D’Air twice, in 2017 and 2018, the Stayers’ Hurdle three times, with Baracouda twice, in 2002 and 2003 and More Of That in 2014, and the Cheltenham Gold Cup with Synchronised in 2012.
McManus is far and away the leading owner at the Cheltenham Festival, some 29 winners ahead of his nearest pursuer, Gigginstown House Stud, although, with 17 winners at the Festival since 2014, Michael O’Leary’s operation has made substantial inroads into his lead in recent years. But, as McManus himself put it, “Racing is a great leveller. The day you think you have mastered the game, you will be made to pay for it the following day.” Nevertheless, with a string of horses in training in Ireland and the United Kingdom, McManus is likely to continue his love affair with the Cheltenham Festival for a good while yet.