Sir Alex Ferguson dropped Manchester United players who went to Cheltenham Festival: 'He didn’t like horse racing'

Sir Alex Ferguson Cheltenham Manchester United
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Former Manchester United defender Gary Pallister has revealed that Sir Alex Ferguson would drop players if he found out they attended Cheltenham Festival, the legendary manager certainly not a fan of horse racing at that time and it potentially interfering with the football season. 

Falling in March every year, Ferguson reasoned that the festival happened at a time when the football season approached the run-in or "squeaky bum time", he famously coined. 

While the Scotsman has since become a huge fan of horse racing - he will have three of his own horses competing at the annual event this year - Pallister explains that players would be left out of the team if they were found to have gone to Cheltenham under Sir Alex's reign at Old Trafford.

“My favourite memories of Fergie and horse racing is that if he found out you’ve been to Cheltenham Festival, he'd drop you," Pallister told Cheltenham Racing (opens in new tab)

“He wasn’t into Cheltenham racing then. He didn’t play golf and he didn’t like horse racing. Now he loves his golf and his horse racing and owns horses.

“Back in the day, he wasn't OK with the lads going off for a day at the races, but that’s all changed and he’s obviously been involved for quite a while now with his good friends from Manchester and had some good success there.”

Pallister, who played at Manchester United from 1989 to 1998, continued, explaining how Bryan Robson loved horse racing the most out of the players at the club, while Paul Ince also enjoyed making bets. 

“Robbo was the biggest racing nut. I always remember we had the players pool at United back in the early days.

“He was the man because he knew a few of the jockeys and as I say he was England and United captain so he was going to get invited everywhere.

“Robbo, Incey was another one who liked a punt on the horses. I think they were the two main protagonists and they were always having a decent flutter on whatever the tipster got.”

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Ryan Dabbs
Staff writer

Ryan is a staff writer for FourFourTwo, joining the team full-time in October 2022. He first joined Future in December 2020, working across FourFourTwo, Golf Monthly, Rugby World and Advnture's websites, before eventually earning himself a position with FourFourTwo permanently. After graduating from Cardiff University with a degree in Journalism and Communications, Ryan earned a NCTJ qualification to further develop as a writer while a Trainee News Writer at Future.