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£280,000 bid to enter the Ascot winners’ enclosure every day
RACEHORSE trainers may be used to a photo finish but a battle between two famous breeders went right to the wire on May 17 when Graham Budd offered a selection of chattels from Ascot Racecourse.

The competition focused upon the wrought and cast iron entranceway to the winners’ enclosure, which had been removed as part of the redevelopment of the racecourse. The old stands are being demolished and those items stripped out that are not being rehoused were put up for auction.

The entranceway comprised a pair of central gates with uprights, spear finials and rising centre section with scrolling brackets enclosing the royal cipher ER. There was some speculation as to whether the ER stood for Edward VII or Elizabeth II, since it was unclear whether they dated from the Edwardian or post-War era.

Estimated at £20,000-30,000, there were a number of bidders who dropped out at the top end of this range and it was then the two racehorse owners that carried the bidding up and up.

They finally sold to Newmarket-based owner and trainer Bill Gredley who had to go to £280,000 to secure them. He will apparently have the gates gracing the outside of his equine centre near Stansted. The underbidder was J.P. McManus, the Irish racehorse owner and business partner of John Magnier, whose investment vehicle Cubic Expression had just netted a cool £70m from selling its shares in Manchester United to Malcolm Glazer.

The price was a record for a piece of sporting memorabilia, but one that lasted only 48 hours before it was exceeded when the FA cup was sold for £420,000 two days later.

In all, the 311 lots at the Ascot sale made a total of £395,040. The profits will be donated to various charities, the majority going to ‘Racing Welfare’.


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