Liam Collins: A high-stakes battle of Ferguson, Magnier and JP McManus
The fallout from the row over the 'Rock' reached as far as the United boardroom
WHEN Mull of Kintyre won the prestigious six-furlong Gimcrack Stakes at York on the August 18, 1999, none of the famous people connected to the horse could have foreseen that it would ultimately destroy the friendship of Sir Alex Ferguson and Ireland's most powerful racing figure, John Magnier of Coolmore Stud.
The pair were casual friends and although Magnier had never been to Old Trafford, his longtime friend and associate, the gambler JP McManus, was a fanatical United fan, frequently flying by private jet to watch his favourite soccer team.
Ferguson, who grew up in the shadow of Glasgow's shipyards and remembered his father having a 'tanner Yankee' (a six-pence accumulator bet) on the horses every Saturday, had developed a casual interest in racing. "One of the reasons I like racing is that, largely, people leave me alone. And when they do talk to me it is likely to be about what is going to win the 3.30 rather than football," he said.