A RUNCORN businessman and his family are celebrating their horse’s success at the Cheltenham Festival.
The Prestons say they are ‘living the dream’ after Sire De Grugy yesterday smashed the field in the BetVictor Queen Mother Champion Chase.
The giant chestnut, a first festival winner for jockey Jamie Moore - brother of one of the world’s finest flat riders, Ryan - delivered a £199,325 prize and day of all days for owners who had no expectation of such a moment when Sire De Grugy was imported from France as their first race horse.
In a millionaire’s paradise, this was a win ‘for the little guys’ and the festival crowd lapped it up.
Although 54-year-old dad Steve, who runs a Dutch sporting goods company, is a race fanatic it was only when family and friends clubbed together to start a personal ‘racehorse fund’ for his 50th birthday that this ‘Roy of the Rovers’ story began.
Son Sean, of Wroxham Road, Great Sankey, was in attendance with around 50 family members and friends to see their red, white and blue silked-hero sprint into the lead soon into the finishing straight.
Sean, a former employee of Johnson’s Hairdressers in Stockton Heath, said: “We bought a race horse four years ago, starting as a 50th birthday present for our dad. He has gone through the ranks and it is a true story of how dreams can come true.
“Living in Warrington now, but originally from the south, and we all follow Crystal Palace which is the reason for his colours.”
Such was the emotions of jubilation among the Preston family and friends in the ownership syndicate, even Camilla - the Duchess of Cornwall - became draped in a red, white and blue Sire De Grugy scarf while handing out the prizes in the winners’ enclosure.
Jeremy Kyle and Clare Balding were seen wearing the colours too.
Also there were the four French brothers who lead the stud where the horse was bred in the Loire Valley.
They were a long way from home, but a fruit of their labour certaiinly seemed at home on a track where he had been beaten twice before.
Not this time though, with a winter of success behind him to call on for experience in the two-mile chase.
In the big-race 11-4 favourite’s wake was Mick Channon’s Somersby, six lengths behind, while Module was third and Sizing Europe - the 2011 winner - was fourth.
For trainer Gary Moore, who has a 25 per cent share in the horse, it was his first festival triumph since success with Tikram 10 years ago.
Sire De Grugy could now make an appearance in Sandown’s Celebration Chase next month.