Saudi Cup News

Sir Alex Ferguson doesn’t mind breaking a rib for Saudi win

Thursday, 22nd February 2024, 3:46pm

Legendary football manager and owner-breeder on his Saudi Cup night runner Spirit Dancer.

Thursday 22 February 2024 – Legendary former Manchester United football manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, was at King Abdulaziz Racecourse this morning to watch his runner Spirit Dancer exercise on track in preparation for Saturday’s G2 Howden Neom Turf Cup.

For Ferguson, who co-owns the Frankel gelding along with Ged Mason and Peter Done, having a horse capable of taking him to international races on the biggest stage still doesn’t seem a reality.

He said: “When I bred Spirit Dancer, we never dreamt we’d get as far as this. I went to Dubai a few years back and wondered what it would like to be on the international stage with a horse, and now we’ve got one there.

“We had a few little problems with him as a three-year-old, but he got over that and he just keeps getting better and better, and he’s not had a lot of racing. That’s what Richard [Fahey] keeps saying; he’s a seven-year-old, but he can race a lot more that he has done so far.”

Spirit Dancer will face stern competition in the 2100m contest, something Ferguson is well aware of: “Aidan [O’Brien] has two of his best ones here, and you know when you’re competing with him, you’re competing against the very best. The Japanese have improved on the international stage in recent years. They’ve buying a lot of good mares and they’re really having a go.”

Speaking about his days as a football manager, Ferguson shared a memory of how he got into racing.

“Around about ’95, I remember my wife saying, ‘You’re going to kill yourself’ because I was so heavily into the game [football] with United that my whole day was absorbed by what the club was doing. So, I said to her one day ‘do you want to go to the racing?’.”

Nearly 30 years later, Ferguson has enjoyed notable successes with his horses in the UK and he touched on how he started breeding horses, including Spirit Dancer.

“It was by accident in a way, I was over in Germany at Andreas Wöhler’s place and he put that idea in my mind. I bought a horse from him, a mare called Queen’s Dream, and a friend of mine suggested this operation down in Hemel Hempstead and I said, ‘Well, we’ll have a go!’”

Asked if their celebrations would be the same if Spirit Dancer is victorious on Saturday as after winning the Bahrain International Trophy back in November, Ferguson laughed as he said: “You mean my broken rib?! He [Ged Mason] grabbed me and jumped me up in the air and I’m going, ‘Ged, Ged, Ged!’”

“I don’t mind [breaking a rib] if we win!”, Ferguson said.

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