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Last Updated: Friday, 15 November, 2002, 09:41 GMT
Kingmaker: JP McManus
The quiet man of racing
By Elizabeth Hudson

JP McManus
McManus owns more than 100 racehorses
He can count the likes of Tiger Woods among his closest friends and is a millionaire many times over.

Legendary punter and horse owner JP McManus would be a nightmare to buy presents for.

The Limerick native has a personal fortune of about 255m, much of it coming from foreign currency trading, which makes him Ireland's eighth richest man.

He owns more than 100 racehorses, mainly for jump racing, and has a sizeable share in Manchester United,

He also co-owns the Sandy Lane Resort in Barbados, along with fellow millionaire and Celtic's major shareholder Dermot Desmond.

The 51-year-old is now based in Switzerland but makes plenty of visits back to Ireland, where members of his family still live.

McManus first dipped his toe in the gambling game as a schoolboy before going to work with his family's plant-hire business.

It wasn't long before he got his own betting stand at Limerick's greyhound track and his explosive early exploits in the betting ring earned him the nickname the Sundance Kid.

But McManus still enjoys the simple pleasures in life with golf, football, hurling and horse racing all playing major roles in his world.

He partnered Irish Ryder Cup star Padraig Harrington to victory in the prestigious Dunhill Links Championship in Scotland in September.

JP McManus factfile
1951: John Patrick (JP) McManus born in Limerick, Ireland
1971: Becomes on-course bookmaker
1976: Buys Cill Dara, first horse to carry his green and gold colours
1982: Wins 250,000 with single bet on Mister Donovan in the SunAlliance Hurdle at Cheltenham
1990: First JP McManus Golf Classic, held in Limerick
1997: Buys Sandy Lane resort in Barbados, along with Dermot Desmond, for 38m
1999: McManus' horse Istabraq wins first of three Champion Hurdles
2001: Along with John Magnier, pays 30m for Man Utd shares

He has played (and beaten) Tiger Woods when the two met in a head-to-head match at Limerick Golf Club. The contest ended on the 16th green with McManus winning 3&2.

Such is his pulling power that he managed to attract some of golf's biggest names to Limerick for his own tournament, the JP McManus Invitational Pro-Am.

Woods, David Duval, Tom Lehman, Lee Janzen, Colin Montgomerie and Mark O'Meara were among those who took part in 2000 alongside a number of lucky locals.

The tournament itself and the celebrity auction afterwards raised a massive 13m for charity.

In fact, McManus' generosity to charities in the area he grew up in is well documented.

Among the beneficiaries are pupils at his old school in Limerick, which awards a number of scholarships annually in his name.

Last year, McManus and fellow millionaire John Magnier were revealed to be involved in a company which bought a major holding in Manchester United.

The pair, both good friends with United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, are involved with the Cubic Expression Company.

The firm became the second largest stakeholder in the club after buying a 6.77% holding, worth about 30m.

There was even speculation the duo might launch a takeover bid, although that has yet to materialise.

Tiger Woods
McManus counts Tiger Woods as a close friend
But many of McManus' most memorable exploits have involved his racehorses, especially at Cheltenham.

McManus is a big National Hunt supporter and his horses race in the green and gold colours of his home GAA club, South Liberties.

His best-known horse is Istabraq, the triple Champion Hurdle winner.

The gelding, who was retired earlier this year, became a much-loved figure with racing fans, especially in Ireland.

"This is my greatest moment in racing," admitted McManus after Istabraq claimed the first of his three Champion Hurdle triumphs.

But although he has achieved success in many spheres, McManus' biggest regret is that Limerick have not won an all-Ireland senior hurling title since 1973.

It seems that there are some things that money can't buy.

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