A die-hard Palace fan who watched his horse win one of the biggest fixtures in jump racing says it was even better than seeing the Eagles get promoted to the Premier League.
Steve Preston, 54, who spent much of his youth in South Croydon, is still lost for words after seeing Sire De Grugy win the Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham last Wednesday.
Mr Preston’s friends and family decked out the winners enclosure in red and blue, in honour of his beloved football team, and handed out Sire De Grugy scarves to whoever would take them, which included the Duchess of Cornwall.
It means the father of three has made hundreds of thousands of pounds in prize money, quite a profit from the €50,000 originally paid for the horse.
The businessman, whose father used to run Preston’s Butchers in Sanderstead, has always been a fan of horse racing after being taken to various tracks by his dad.
He said he always dreamed of owning a race horse and in 2010 it became reality after his sons opened a bank account for his 50th birthday and raised £2,000 to put towards a horse.
The former Forestdale resident wanted any potential trainer to buy a 25 per cent stake in any horse he bought and after a number refused he finally found an unlikely taker.
Sussex based trainer and Brighton fan, one of the Palace’s fiercest rivals, Gary Moore was up for the challenge.
Moore, whose son Jamie rides the horse, has seen Sire De Grugy notch up five wins this season including the prestigious Champion Hurdle.
Mr Preston has now brought the horse’s brother as he looks to continue the success story.
He said: "We are all fanatical about Palace really and I chose the colours of red and blue for Sire De Grugy.
"We have quite a bit of banter as Jamie, who is a Brighton fan like his dad, has won a lot of races on Sire in Palace colours.
"It is hard to describe the day really.
"We made it a carnival atmosphere and we had loads of scarves.
"I gave one to Camilla who said it was delightful so she is a Palace fan now.
"I told her to give it to young George.
"The bus out of Cheltenham was glad all over and we had everyone on the bus singing it which was fantastic.
"I have seen Palace promoted and get to the FA Cup Final but this tops it really as it is just so personal.
"I don’t think anything will come close to this.
"It is like Palace winning the Premier League or the Champions League as from where we started it would have been the same odds, probably something like 1000/1.
"It was a fantastic day and we did Palace proud.
"It has been a journey never to be forgotten."
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