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Magical Moments

First appeared in the November 2016 issue of
Thoroughbred Owner and Breeder

Limato - Paul Jacobs

Limato 450There was a slight delay in speaking to Paul Jacobs for this article as he had something quite important to do – book his flights to California.

Talking shortly after it had been decided that Limato would not run at Ascot on Champions Day and instead head to Santa Anita for the Breeders’ Cup, Jacobs said: “What a performance! Prices have increased, and availability decreased, and there’s still a lot to sort out. It will be something to look forward to once everything is arranged!”

Contesting – and winning – Group 1s isn’t routine for Jacobs, though he has been an owner for around quarter of a century, his predominantly green silks now well known, especially through Limato over the past couple of years.

Explaining his background – and silks – Jacobs says: “I was born in 1946 in Plymouth, where all my family came from. All of us being lifelong supporters of Plymouth Argyle – the only team in the Football League to play in dark green, with some black and white – it was a no-brainer my colours are dark green with a black v-sign, politely known as a chevron, and a white cap for identification from a distance!

When Limato won the Foret we were top of League Two!” He continues: “My parents left Plymouth for Kenya in 1951, dad to work for East African Railways & Harbours, and mum at the local CID. To supplement their incomes, they worked weekends at Ngong racecourse in Nairobi.

So I was taken along as a child and had to report back between each race to, respectively, dad in the Tote Credit office and mum at a Tote window, so they knew I hadn’t absconded or been abducted!

“So at the age of five I became hooked on racehorses, and long thought of the day when I could actually own one.

“That had to wait until 1989, when I bought Coronation Stables in Newmarket with Neil and Lesley Graham, the connection being I had become a partner in the London law firm of what is now Clifford Chance, where we had recruited Lesley as an Articled Clerk, and subsequently she and Neil married.”

Jacobs did not have to wait long for his first runner, or winner, as the two came together at Leicester, with Steve Cauthen in the saddle. He says: “The first horse that ran for me, in early 1990, was Gay Glint, a Glint Of Gold bred by Ballymacoll Stud I had bought for 12,000gns the previous October, the vet having deemed him unlikely to race! He won that first race, and nine in total for me, under both codes.

“I’ve subsequently owned, or had shares in, a few hundred horses. I now have 100% of ten under trainers’ care, plus two shared, a broodmare in foal, and a foal.”

Henry Candy, via this year’s July Cup and Prix de la Foret winner Limato, is the trainer currently most associated with Jacobs, but the owner is not a one-trainer pony. “Over the years I’ve had a lot, starting of course with Neil, who is still a close friend and adviser,” says Jacobs.

“Currently my longest standing one is Simon Dow, from the mid-90s, then from the early noughties Emma Lavelle, and since I moved near the Lambourn area, Harry Whittington and Henry Candy.

“Simon’s in Epsom, so when I was in London that was very convenient: he lives and breathes Epsom, and sends me emails earlier in the morning than anyone!

“Emma as a young trainer sent a brilliant round robin letter when she was based near Andover, as a result of which I sent the first of quite a number to her. “In early 2014 I decided I’d like Limato to be trained closer to where I had recently come to live in the Vale of White Horse, and Henry’s yard was the nearest.

“I phoned, only to be told his yard was ‘chock-a-block’, but miraculously less than 48 hours later a vacancy appeared; he was moved, and the rest is history.

“As for Harry and his team, I couldn’t have been luckier in finding such a lovely place locally; dedicated, focused, caring, lively, so informative and such good company. Harry’s operation should be the prototype for a great training yard.”

Gay Glint, Tomina, named after father Tom, Marjina for mum Marjorie and Limato – “Li’ for my lovely wife Linda and ‘ma’ and ‘to’ for my great parents” – have all provided Jacobs with memories to cherish, while the best thing about being an owner “is the euphoria of being there to see one of yours passing the post first and in your colours”.

He likes naming horses too – “that’s part of the fun” – but while that is always something an owner can control, how fast they run isn’t, and only Limato has shown enough ability to allow Jacobs to dine at racing’s top table.

“Foolish Heart was a good horse and took us to Italy, and there was Gay Glint, but Limato is the stand-out by a mile,” he admits. In 2017 Limato might not reappear until Royal Ascot, to preserve him for the second half of the year, but as a dual-purpose owner Jacobs will not be kicking his heels.

“It’s a year-round game for me, and that’s part of the buzz,” he says, before heading off to arrange a trip to Market Rasen to see Pink Play contest a two-and-a-half-mile handicap hurdle.

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