A professional gambler is taking a punt – on a Huddersfield Town racehorse.
Lifelong Town fan Richard Ward, 34, has bought a two-year-old filly and is selling shares to supporters.
Richard, brought up in Cowcliffe, has owned horses for the last two years and is no stranger to the winner’s enclosure.
Now he is set to combine his passions for racing and football with the as-yet-unnamed filly.
“It’s not about landing a gamble or making money, it’s all about enjoying the sport and having a bit of fun,” said Richard.
“We just want the horse to be as successful as she can be. There’s no guarantee she’ll be a winner but we think a lot about her.”
Richard’s syndicate Blue Grey Chevron has teamed up with rookie trainer Ivan Furtado, who trains at Wiseton Stables near Doncaster.
The horse will race on the flat this summer but before she makes her debut on the turf she needs a name – and Town fans are being urged to help.
Richard is running a competition offering a 1% share to the person who comes up with the best Town-related suggestion.
Fans can text their suggestions to a premium rate number and all profits will be donated to Town’s Keep It Up campaign which raises money for the Yorkshire Air Ambulance and the club’s youth academy.
The winning name will be chosen by club ambassador Andy Booth.
Richard, who attended Fixby Primary School and Rastrick High, hopes to build a string of football club racehorses but wanted Town’s to be first.
“I’m a lifelong Town fan and was a mascot at Leeds Road for a game against Northampton when I was eight,” he said. “When I was younger I went to 230-odd successive games home and away but now racing has taken over and I don’t get to the football very often.”
After Town, the next club to have its own horse will be Liverpool. Also a two-year-old filly, her sire – appropriately – is Captain Gerrard. She’s already been named Shellneverwalkalone. Carlisle United, MK Dons and Leicester City are also being lined up.
The horses will all run in the syndicate’s blue jacket with a grey chevron but will be distinguished by different coloured caps. Town’s will have blue and white stripes.
Richard’s parents Trevor and Jennifer still live in Cowcliffe and it was Trevor who introduced his son to racing at the age of eight.
After landing the first and second – Rhyme ’n’ Reason and Durham Edition – in the 1988 Grand National, and scooping a 10p reverse forecast, Richard was hooked.
He left Huddersfield in 2010 and met wife-to-be Victoria, 34, on a train to Town’s play-off final against Peterborough in 2011.
Richard quit his estate agency and coffee shop businesses in London and moved to Derbyshire. For the last year he’s made his living from gambling and property speculation.
He’s had nine winners so far, including Outbid, Belle Bayardo and Dusty Blue. “You could say I’m living the dream,” he added.
Town legend Booth joined the Examiner to see the horse being put through its paces on the gallops and said: “She’s a good looking filly not that I know much about horses!
“I like a flutter but I’m a bit wary around horses. I haven’t been on one since I was about six.”
Naming the horse could raise hundreds of pounds for Keep It Up and Booth said: “Every penny counts. It’s a fun idea to raise some money.”
Booth has come up with the first two suggestions for a name. He’s torn between Geegeepressing – named after German head coach David Wagner’s gegenpressing style – and Ann Hoof, in honour of Town’s long-serving operations director Ann Hough.
To help with names the horse is by the sire Major Cadeaux out of the mare Mortitia.
A 5% share in the Town horse costs £250 plus £75 a month all inclusive or 10% is £500 plus £150 a month. Free owners’ badges are available every time the horse runs.
For more on the syndicate ring Richard on 07432 055232 or e-mail email@example.com. To vote for the horse’s name text the word ‘horse’ followed by your suggestion to 82070. Texts cost £1.50 plus normal network charge. Around 75p in every pound will go to the charity. The closing date is February 29.