Monday 25 June 2018

Horse-racing magnate and former Manchester United FC shareholder JP McManus got a bookmaker's licence at age 21, but within a short time he burnished his 'Sundance Kid' reputation by making a killing on currency and bond markets.

McManus (66), a tax resident of Switzerland, conducts his currency operations from Geneva.

He often invests with John Magnier and the pair, along with Dermot Desmond, control the €1bn-valued Sandy Lane beach-front resort in Barbados, having bought it with a consortium in 1998. They also own a 23pc stake in Britain's biggest pub company, Mitchells & Butlers (M&B). The pair have done well from their stake in Barchester, with annual profits of nearly €21m.

McManus also owns one of Ireland's biggest private residences, a vast neo-Palladian home at Killmallock, Co Limerick. The luxury home has an artificial lake, nine bedroom suites, an 18-metre pool, a 200-seat cinema and an underground car park for six cars.

In 2006, he bought the grounds of a local sports club to ensure complete privacy at his 40,000-sq ft property. The home is set on 600 acres where his wife Noreen operates the stud and horse farm which stocks thoroughbred racehorses.

As the leading National Hunt owner, McManus's jockeys carry the legendary billionaire owner's famous green and yellow colours, the colours of his beloved South Liberties GAA club. Legendary champion jockey AP McCoy was McManus's number one retained jockey.

Such is McManus's aversion to publicity, however, he even named one of his horses No Comment.

The betting billionaire recently joined a very select club of the world's super rich by splashing out €55m on a top-of-the-range Gulfstream G650 personal jet. Its official registration, as displayed on the tail, is EI-JSK, taken from the initials of his children John, Sue-Ann and Kieran.

McManus has invested €10m in a planned new rugby visitor centre for Limerick, headed up by former Ireland and Munster captain, Paul O'Connell.

Planning permission has been sought for the facility that is intended to become an international tourist attraction, with hi-tech 4D interactive galleries and exhibits celebrating rugby. It is hoped that the International Rugby Experience will open by early 2019.

His philanthropy in Limerick is the stuff of legend. But he still manages to keep the common touch. Last August, he jetted in from Geneva to attend a public hearing alongside residents opposing proposed changes to a cement factory in Limerick.

In February 2017, in a rare reversal of fortune, the Irish tax exile lost a US legal action to recover $5.2m (€4.9m) in tax withheld from his winnings on a three-day backgammon match.

The racehorse-owner and his wife, Noreen, also own a home on the so-called Millionaires' Row of Ailesbury Road.

A jewel in McManus's vast property portfolio is the five-star Adare Manor. He spent close to €30m in 2015 to buy the luxury hotel and golf resort where he hosts his world famous and celeb-laden Pro-Am for charity.

It reopened last year following a €50m makeover, including the addition of a new 42-bedroom wing and huge ballroom. The hotel's golf course, which is set to open in spring 2018, was redesigned with a view to staging the Ryder Cup in 2026.

McManus knows that hosting the Ryder Cup at his own venue, in his own town, would seal his legacy. 'It's one of my long-term dreams,' the 66-year-old revealed to local media, while also acknowledging it's a 'very, very big ask'.

A big ask indeed. But few people would bet against McManus succeeding.

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