Owner In Focus - Phil Cunningham
Phil Cunnigham star covered colours have colours seen many successes over the years. With Ascot highlights including a track breaking record in the 2017 Coventry with Rajasinghe Phil is looking forward to the season ahead, and with any luck a return to Ascot’s winning enclosure.
We spoke to Phil and found out about the horse he would like to own, his favourite racing moments and what he looks for in a trainer.
How did you choose your colours?
I have 2 sets, my second colours are used for the Rebel Racing syndicates and are black body with grey sleeves with six black stars. They were first used for a small 5/6 man syndicate called six star racing who owned Rebel Rebel who finished second in the 2000 Guineas in 2005. I then changed the body to white to make my first set of colours. We’ve then kept the same pattern in the family as my wife, son and daughter all have the same pattern with different sleeve colours.
What is your favourite Ascot memory?
Rajasinghe winning the Coventry in 2017 breaking the track record - which he still holds today. He was my first Royal Ascot winner and in Richard’s first season as a trainer! It was a dream day, what racing is all about!
As an owner, what has been your favourite racing moment?
It has to be Cockney Rebel winning the Newmarket 2000 Guineas, still to this day I expect someone to wake me up and say it was all a dream.
What is the race you would most love to win, anywhere in the world? Originally it would’ve been the Guineas, but that has been a lucky race for me with a second, first and fourth, now onto the Derby !
What was the first racehorse you owned?
Cool Temper, we got eight mates together and bought a yearling , trained by the late, proper horseman Jack Banks. The horse ran six times as a two-year-oldand finished second on each occasion, each one a great day out.
Do you have one horse in-particular you are looking forward to see race this year?
Mr Big Stuff, a homebred two-year-old out of my homebred mare Groovejet. The horse is by Ifraaj and the dam’s family is like a record of my own racing career!
Why should others consider becoming an owner?
Watching a horse run in your colours, that you’ve named win a race has to be the best couple of minutes of anyone’s life.
When did your interest in racing start?
My Dad is from Cahir, County Tipperary, one of the horse centres of the world, and I have lots of family on fringe of racing. Dad had some interest when I was younger and I loved being in and around the sport, so I had a constant desire to get more involved.
The horse you would like to own but don’t?
What makes a good trainer?
Natural ability, ambition and hard work.
How did you keep involved with your horses during lockdown?
I am very fortunate in that I own the training yard, Sefton Lodge in Newmarket, and am heavily involved in the training operation. Lockdown afforded me the opportunity to be based there and spend every day with the horses.
Why flat racing?I have had some jump horses, and been very lucky to have had a Cheltenham winner with Cinders And Ashes in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle a few years back. I love the festivals and we have