Features | 23rd February 2024

Four friends from Glasgow who enjoyed an occasional day out at the races but thought ownership was just a pipe dream are celebrating seeing their horse Bonito Cavalo win five races in a row on the All-Weather.

An invitation to Jim Goldie’s East Renfrewshire stables about three years ago was the start of an adventure of a lifetime for Jeanette Leiper, Ellen Stevenson, Lesley Symons and Karen McMath.

Their five-year-old scooped around £25,000 in prize money in his winning streak at Newcastle and is also in the running for the £100,000 Horse of the Year prize in Arena Racing’s Million Pound Bonus competition.

So how did the dream of ownership become a reality for them? Jeanette explains.

“Getting involved was so much easier than we thought. John Frew, a friend who runs the Whitestonecliffe Racing Partnership, knew we enjoyed going to the races and asked us if we’d like to get involved in a horse of our own.

“He organised a visit to Jim’s stables and we were instantly hooked. We met the horses in their stables, saw them exercising on the gallops and chatted to his dedicated stable staff. Jim had all the time in the world to answer all our questions, even though we knew nothing about horses, really.”

Did the trainer buy a horse for you?

“He had two two-year-olds for sale but we all fell in love with a colt called Blair. Jim even allowed us to name him so we went away for a drink and came up with Bonito Cavalo, which means ‘beautiful horse’ in Portuguese. We all enjoy holidays there so it was a fitting choice.”

So how did you become official owners?

“It was so easy. John and Jim sorted everything out for us. We all began to pay a fixed monthly sum by direct debit. There were no hidden costs. All we had to concentrate on was enjoying the thrill of going to the races as proud owners.”

You had a long wait to get into the winner’s enclosure, but did that matter?

“Not one bit. When we went into this we were just happy to go racing as owners and the good results were always a bonus. We had some memorable days when he was placed a few times at Ayr, Musselburgh and Hamilton but were never disappointed he didn’t win.

“It was just amazing to see him race but when Jim had the idea of switching him to the All-Weather this winter the unthinkable happened – not once but five times in a row!”

Watching him keep winning must have been a big thrill.

“It’s been unbelievable. The adrenalin rush we all get seeing him cross the line in front is hard to put into words. When he won for the first time in January we all went back to our local club and replayed the race on a big screen,” adds Jeanette.


Bonito Cavalo ran 22 times on turf before finally getting his head in front in a six-furlong classified race on the Tapeta on 8th January. In winning a further four times in less than a month the son of Orientor elevated his official rating from 45 to 74, making him one of the most prolific horses in the All-Weather Championships. No wonder his owners are gushing with pride.