MIKE MADDEN went from meal deal to hospitality after using Tesco Clubcard points to buy a horse.
Now the IT guru arrives at Royal Ascot in a helicopter £80,000 better off thanks to a horse who’s taken him from supermarket to superstar.
Horse owner and IT guru Mike with sister Fiona and daughter Gabriella before they hopped in their helicopter to Royal Ascot
Mike’s wife Sally kisses Star of Lady M after she wins £21,000 with victory at Beverley
Mike’s journey is the stuff all owners dream of, although how it started couldn’t be more ordinary.
A lifelong racing lover, Mike, 61, would always tot up his points to spend on something special.
But it wasn’t until 2008 that he and wife Sally splashed out on another horse after previously having shares in one who ‘specialised in finishing last’.
Little did he know 14 years later he would be swanning round racing’s most glamourous meeting with a two-year-old filly worth hundreds of thousands.
Describing how it all came about, he said: “I’ve always collected Clubcard points but back then they didn’t have that many partners.
“I came across Own a Racehorse – you could spend your Clubcard points on shares in horses.
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“You think of Tesco and people think you’ve gone, ‘I’ll have some potatoes and a racehorse please!’
“It wasn’t quite like that because it was done over the phone or online, but it was innovative of Own a Racehorse to do that.”
Friendship Bay and Tenjack King didn’t amount to much – but soon after Mike’s business really started taking off.
After a good couple of years he hit last year’s October Tattersalls sales armed with £20,000 and renewed hope of finding that winner he had always craved.
Bloodstock agent and good friend Luke Lillingston was there to guide him along – but nothing prepared him for the amount of cash changing hands.
Safe to say Clubcard points were useless at this point.
Mike said: “The first horse we circled went for £80,000 – and I thought we were at the wrong sale! The prices were ridiculous.
“It got to 8pm and we placed our first bid… that horse went for £28,000.
“We went back the next day. We found one we liked and went up to 15,000 guineas.
“Jamie Osborne was the underbidder and he dropped out so the hammer came down.
“The team from Whitsbury Manor Stud came over to say thank you for the purchase.
“They said we’d much rather sell to you for 15,000 than someone like Coolmore for half a million because you were just so excited to buy a horse.
“The sale went on, we were in the bar celebrating and watching as others went for 35k and 22k, so our 15k was good.
“There was another Luke was interested in and Tim Easterby and Richard Kent wanted to sell three-quarters of her.
“So we bought three-quarters of Emerald Duchess for 15,000 guineas – from no racehorses at 4.30pm, an hour later we had one and three-quarters!”
But it is the first one – Star of Lady M – who has been the life-changer.
She won her first two races and, as a Great British Bonus-registered filly, brought in extra cash with each victory.
The horse – and Mike – really started getting attention after she won Beverley’s big Hilary Needler trophy worth £21,000 in May.
He said: “Darryll Holland trained Primrose Ridge. When Star of Lady M won her first race at Redcar, he said Star would never beat his horse again.
“So when she did just that at Beverley in such a big race, it was sweet.
“I didn’t see Darryll but I believe he was there. I’d have liked to have said something to him.
“But as winning goes – I was in the Nou Camp for the Champions League final in 1999… nothing compared to the feeling of winning with your own racehorse.”
By now, with three wins from four, the cash was piling up and a trip to Royal Ascot on the cards.
But the success was a double-edged sword.
Mike explained: “Luke told me to sell Star of Lady M just before Ascot. He said I could get six figures for her easily.
“I said no, my family agreed. I said while she’s racing, she’s racing in my colours and that’s the end of it.
“Luke was really pleased with our decision.
“With the bonuses and the money she was winning it enabled us to live the dream.”
Mike spent £7,500 on two choppers to take him and his loved ones to Ascot, after being told they were too heavy to fit in one.
Walking round with his owner’s badge on, it was a far cry from those days collecting Clubcard points for a share of a no-hoper.
And while it didn’t work out for Star of Lady M at Ascot, she did win her next race at Musselburgh and go on to finish third behind The Platinum Queen at Glorious Goodwood.
For context, she was sold for £1.2million last month.
Star of Lady M is now worth her own small fortune and has a promising three-year-old career with brilliant trainer David O’Meara ahead.
A meteoric rise from those humble Clubcard days.
But as they say, every little helps.
Mike has detailed his ownership journey in new book From Tattersalls to Triumphs. All proceeds go to the Injured Jockeys’ Fund and Retraining Of Racehorses charities – buy HERE.
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