Why Villa Players Are Often Seen At Horse Races

Football and horse racing – they go together.

Horse racing is a sport that typically attracts stars from across the world to the track, with many celebrities attending some of the biggest events on the calendar.

That is no different in any nation, with stars such as Drake and Justin Timberlake regularly attending the fixtures in the United States. However, horse racing in the United Kingdom and Ireland is most popular with sports stars, with footballers typically taking in a day at the races during their off-time.

Superstars in the sport such as Sir Alex Ferguson and Harry Redknapp have regularly been seen cheering on their runners at Cheltenham and Aintree, and players from Aston Villa have joined the growing number of footballers embracing the equine sport in recent years.

Let’s hope they are not peeking into the 2024 Kentucky Derby odds by TwinSpires after Premier League games. Take a look at the close relationship between Villa and horse racing.

Villa Stars Get Taste Of Action During Grand National Challenge

Villa players got their first taste of the horse racing action in the build up to the 2022 Grand National, as they were enlisted for marketing duties to build hype for the world’s most iconic race at Aintree.

Racing commentator for TalkSport and lifelong Villa fan Rupert Bell was on hand to show the stars the way, as they embraced a game of ‘roll-a-ball’ to see who the winner of the Villa Grand National would be.

But, it would appear as though their first step into the sport had a big impression, as Villa stars were on hand to take in live action last year.

Stars Attend Cheltenham Festival

While the Grand National may be the most iconic race on the National Hunt schedule, there is no bigger spectacle in horse racing than the Cheltenham Festival. Across four days of action, the best jumps horses in training compete for some of the most prestigious prizes, with the action headlined by the world-famous Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Villa stars were pictured at the Festival in 2022, as they took in the opening day of the Festival. Club captain Tyrone Mings was among the stars in attendance as part of a pledge to be friends off the field, with World Cup winner Emiliano Martinez, Ashley Young, and Matty Cash also in attendance.

Mings revealed before heading to Cheltenham that the team were looking to build morale in order to help improve their results on the field. The Villa players weren’t the only stars in attendance on the opening day of the 2022 Festival, with popstar Rod Stewart and legendary football commentator John Motson also taking in the festivities.

Racing Isn’t Accepted By All Clubs

The decision to head for a day at the races certainly improved Villa morale, as they haven’t looked back in the last 18 months, and they could be on the cusp of finishing in a Champions League spot this term. However, some football managers throughout history have taken a harder approach with players attending the meet, given that it takes place in the middle of a busy schedule.

Surprisingly, Sir Alex Ferguson is one of the bosses that stopped his players from attending. Ferguson’s passion for racing exploded when attending the Festival for the first time, and he has gone on to own a number of famous horses that have achieved top-level glory over jumps and on the flat.

However, it was recalled by former defender Gary Pallister that the boss took a firm approach with his players. The former United star revealed that Ferguson would threaten players that would dare to attend the Festival in March, stating that any players to go to Cheltenham would be dropped for the next match.

But, the former United star did admit that it didn’t stop the players from watching the action, as he recalled that Bryan Robson and Paul Ince would actively wager on the Festival races during downtime after training.