Features | 6th June 2024

A retired Dublin priest is among the syndicate owners who will be praying for Royal Ascot glory with star sprinter Regional.

Ed Bethell’s six-year-old, who cost the syndicate just 3,500 gns, heads for the Group 1 King Charles III Stakes on the opening day of the Royal Meeting on 18th June – supported by his 10 devoted shareholders including Father Sean McGuigan.

“Sean has been a lifelong racing fan and, like the rest of us, is enjoying an incredible journey with Regional,” says Danny Clark, who runs the Future Champions syndicate with business partner Byron Hubbard.

Regional, who began last season with victory in a York handicap and ended it with Group 1 success in the Haydock Sprint Cup, will be among the market leaders for the five-furlong dash, and his owners can’t wait for the big day.

“It’s a dream come true for any owner to have a Royal Ascot runner, no least one with a leading chance, so we’re looking forward to an unforgettable day as long as we get the sound surface he needs,” adds Danny.

Syndicate manager Danny Clark, second right, with trainer Ed Bethell, jockey Callum Rodriguez and the Sprint Cup at Haydock

Father McGuigan was at The Curragh to see Regional finish a creditable second in the Group 2 Greenlands Stakes on his seasonal re-appearance and shares the gelding with nine others, all from very different walks of life.

“David Channon, from Essex, bought a share in Regional for his wife’s birthday a few years ago,” explains Danny. “We call the horse Reggie and that was the name of his wife Diane’s late father. Amazingly, Diane will be celebrating her 60th birthday on the day Regional runs at Royal Ascot so hopefully she will be enjoying a few glasses of bubbly.”

It promises to be a special day, too, for 82-year-old shareholder Sunil Liyanage, who has been attending Royal Ascot for over 40 years. “For Sunil to have a runner is a dream come true and to mark the occasion he’s putting on a champagne picnic for all the syndicate members before racing,” adds Danny.

Also among Regional’s owners, who all have a 10 per cent stake in the 114-rated speedball, are Cambridge car mechanic Alan Hawkes, football academy owner James Fraser and Bristol-based printer Ben Skuse.

“We are all immensely proud of the way Ed (Bethell) has handled our horse,” says Danny. “It was a special moment for us to share his first ever Group 1 win at Haydock but to give him his first Royal Ascot winner would be something else.”

Regional is set to give his owners more memorable days out this summer, with Group 1 entries in the July Cup at Newmarket, the Nunthorpe Stakes at York and the Flying Five in Ireland before possibly embarking on an international adventure. He could be aimed at the Breeders’ Cup in the autumn before targeting valuable prizes in the Middle East in the new year.

Future Champions are also looking forward to Hello Hottie – part-owned by racecourse commentator Derek Thompson – making her debut for Bethell and have launched a micro share syndicate featuring Bethell’s Counting Cards and the Karl Burke-trained Cheerleader.

Find out more about Regional’s story in this video.

Regional wins At York Racecourse