Noel Kershaw

One of a certain N Kershaw’s top 40 UK hits was called When A Heart Beats.

When you own a good sprinter, like another N Kershaw, it certainly does. Pop star Nik Kershaw’s heyday was the 1980s but for racehorse owner Noel Kershaw, it’s all about the here and now.

Mr Lupton has landed a big victory in each of his four seasons of racing, and having struck in a £50,000 handicap at York in May, hopefully can progress to record a second major win of 2018. He is, understandably, the pride and joy of his owner, and has an extra claim to being recognised as one of the family.Kershaw says:

“I’ve always been interested in racing having been introduced by my grandad John Lupton, hence Mr Lupton.

“This initial interest was then built on through regular pilgrimages to the beautiful Yorkshire racetracks I’m lucky enough to be in relative close proximity to.

“My dad, who I spent many years working for, always promised to buy a horse but never did and I’d always wanted to know how the industry worked and looked like from behind the scenes.

“In May 2014 I attended a charity golf day in support of the Graham Wylie Children’s Heart Unit Foundation, and in seeing that there was an opportunity to bid for the right to be a racehorseowner for a year, I decided that I was going to go for it.

“I set a figure of how far I’d go but, buoyed by far too many drinks, I totally ignored my limit and ended up bagging the prize!”

He continues: “I got to name the horse, choose the colours and keep half the winnings in conjunction with Richard Fahey, who had been kind enough to donate the prize to be auctioned off.

“I expected that really to be 50% of nothing, but in his first year he won at Haydock and then came second in the Weatherbys Super Sprint at Newbury,won the £300,000 Weatherbys Hamilton sales race at Doncaster, and came second in the Totepool Two-Year-Old Trophy at Redcar, so at the end of the one-year term I officially bought 50% with Richard retaining the other half.”

Mr Lupton is by Elnadim, as was a yearling Kershaw bought with brother Simon, Our Kid. Kershaw says: “He ran under our Market Men Partnership last term, winning on debut at Wolverhampton and then enjoying mixed results, although we always saw him as being a scopey type with more to come as a three-year-old.

“However, sadly last month he suffered a freak break to his foreleg which meant we had no option but to have him put down, which was very upsetting and brought into focus just how precarious and unpredictable the sport can be.

“Richard Fahey and his team handled the whole situation with the highest levels of concern and care for Our Kid, and we are indebted to them for their fantastic advice and compassion.

“We’ll be looking to invest again at the end of this year in another yearling for 2019.”

Kershaw has never once regretted it was Fahey who put up that charity auction prize and adds:

“I don’t think I could have been more fortunate.Richard and his team are simply brilliant; they have always been so accessible and open, always had time for endless stupid questions, visits to the stables and been instrumental in developing our passion and understanding of the sport.

“His team are amazing, there’s always much humour and they are all so grounded and diligent it’s just been great to be around.”

Also great to have been around is Mr Lupton, who at the time of writing has won five of his 30 starts, for £416,502 in prize-money. Asked to pick out the magical moments to date, Kershaw replies: “It’s so hard to say because we have been so incredibly fortunate - if I have to choose one it’s probably winning the Longholes Handicap at Newmarket at the 1,000 Guineas meeting last year.

“I was with my brother and his wife and two great friends, Mr Lupton got an amazing ride by Gerald Mosse, we werethen hosted in the royal box to watch the replay with a glass of fizz, all this atthe home of racing.

“Winning the valuable sales race at Doncaster was equally special, not just the win but the fact that when we returned to the Weatherbys box they had hosted a lunch for the runners in the race – we were applauded by them all, this in our first year of racing!

“We were as green as the turf itself but soon benefitting from the amazing warmth and charity of fellow owners, which was so refreshing and continues to be a great element of our enjoyment in the sport.

“The best thing about being an owner is to be part of that wider team, the people involved in the day to day who work so hard and then all those people who have adopted Mr Lupton as their own to follow.

“When he has landed the race against all the odds, carrying top weights in handicaps and reeling in horses on much less of a mark is just so special.” As has been rubbing shoulders with the top brass, Mr Lupton having contested four Group 1s to date, and several other Pattern races.

“The Group races have made our heads spin,” admits Kershaw. “To see our boy in the parade ring with the likes of Harry Angel, Caravaggio,Tasleet, The Tin Man, Brando and all the other top sprinters last year was something else – a bit like Bradford City making it to the Premiership; you knew they weren’t going to win the league but playing with and seeing all the best teams made it something you wouldn’t have passed up.”

Bradford features in Kershaw’s professional, as well as sporting, life. He explains: “I own a food service business called Delifresh, supplying hotels and restaurants throughout the north of England with a comprehensive range of fresh fruits and vegetables, specialist delicatessen goods, dairy and dry stores.

“I’ve a great team of people around me and we operate from three centres– Bradford, Widnes and Newcastle.”

As for Mr Lupton, he was ready to contest the Wokingham at the time of our chat, a race in which he finished eighth of 28 runners. Kershaw says: “That was the plan from the beginning of the year. We’ve no plans set but he’s in good order and is only five.”

Wouldn’t it be good if Mr Lupton could continue his rise up the charts?

(July 2018)