horse jumping over fence-hedge

“Horse racing” by Paul (CC BY 2.0)

*Known as the “sport of kings”, horse racing has long been associated with the rich and famous. While in ancient times, the sport was run purely for the thrill of the competition, today, the spectacle of the occasion – and the betting involved – has almost surpassed the sport itself.

As of 2015, the horse racing gambling industry was worth approximately $9.8 billion in the US alone; with that sort of money involved, it’s little wonder that a number of celebrities are passionate about the sport. Today, we’re taking a look at a handful of those who are involved, in some capacity, with the world of horse racing.

MC Hammer

During his prime in the early-1990s, Californian rapper MC Hammer had a reputation for his opulence; his lavish spending eventually led to him filing for bankruptcy in 1996. At the height of his fame, the man known to his parents as Stanley Kirk Burrell splashed out millions on a stable full of 19 thoroughbred racehorses, with the most expensive reportedly set him back $1.2 million.

The most well-known horse owned by Hammer was unquestionably Lite Light. Racing under his Oaktown Stable banner, the filly won the prestigious Kentucky Oaks meet in 1991, ridden by Corey Nakatani.

Wayne Rooney

The captain of England’s national soccer team Wayne Rooney is known to have a penchant for a number of other sports, including rugby league and golf, but it’s horse racing that he’s arguably invested in the most. Back in 2014, the British press reported that the Manchester United veteran had purchased a third racehorse – despite his first two forays into the sport proving hugely unsuccessful.

Along with wife Colleen, Rooney has also been a regular fixture at the Grand National, the world’s most famous steeplechase. As the infographic below shows, the Aintree-based event has a huge global appeal: it is screened to 84 countries worldwide with an estimated audience of 500 million.

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Queen Elizabeth II

As the UK’s reigning monarch proves, horse racing isn’t only the sport of kings – it’s the sport of queens, too. Queen Elizabeth II has reportedly had a fascination horses from a young age; she learned to ride a pony at the age of six and has had a keen interest in the breeding of thoroughbreds for racing over the past half-decade.

During her reign, the Queen has seen 71 of her horses win at Ascot, while the Queen Mother was also heavily invested in racing throughout her life; Devon Loch, one of the horses she owned, was leading the Grand National in 1956 before falling on the final straight. If royalty’s involvement has inspired you to get involved with horse racing, you may wonder how to bet on Grand National 2017? Betting guides, such as those offered by bookmaker William Hill, may prove a useful starting point for beginners.

Bing Crosby

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“Bing Crosby” by kate gabrielle (CC BY 2.0)

Much like Wayne Rooney, legendary singer and actor Bing Crosby had his hand in a number of sports – with horse racing perhaps being the most prominent. Aside from his part-ownership of baseball team Pittsburgh Pirates, Crosby was a founding partner of the Del Mar Racetrack – where the Bing Crosby Stakes is now run in his honor every year – and owned a number of horse racing stables.

Although he tasted some success, particularly in the 1965 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes and Irish Derby with Meadow Court, Crosby’s lack of success became part of a running joke: “Crosby’s horse finally came in” was a popular gag in the US throughout his career