Judi Dench, racehorse owner

Tea Time Tidbit for the week of February 19, 2018

Tea Time Tidbit

Dame Judi Dench

There are not many acting awards – if any – that don’t have Dame Judi Dench’s name attached. Now the 83-year-old actress has set her sights on winning a prize far outside her profession.

This year, Dame Judi will enter a horse in Britain’s biggest and toughest horse race, the Grand National. The four mile, 30 jump race, which was started in 1839, was made famous in the 1944 film National Velvet starring Elizabeth Taylor and Mickey Rooney. It takes place every April at Aintree Racecourse near Liverpool and the prize money for the winner is over half a million pounds (about $800,000).

The horse Dench will be entering is called As De Mee, a seven-year-old Bay Gelding that she co-owns with businessman and racehorse owner Andy Stewart. Dench and Stewart first met a few years back when Stewart was the winning bidder in a charity auction to have lunch with Dench. By the end of the lunch, our favorite Dame had agreed to buy what is reportedly a "significant share" in the French racehorse.

Tea Time Tidbit

Dame Judi unveiling "The Conversion of
St Paul" at St Paul's Covent Garden

According to the Aintree Racecourse website, Dench’s love of racing actually began in France when she was a small child.

“I had a French sister-in-law whose family had a racing stable in Chantilly,” said Dench. “And I went over there with my family and there was a horse named after my cat and it came in and I’ve never quite known what it won because I was quite little. But it probably paid for our holiday. I used to ride a lot too so after that I’ve always had a huge love of racing.”

As De Mee isn’t the first horse that Dench has owned. She also enjoyed some success with a horse she co-owned called Smokey Oakey who won 7 of his 55 races and brought in about $200,000 in prize money. She also owned two other horses called Zenarinda and Peeps. After his racing days were done, Smokey Oakey retired to Surrey where he gave rides to children and young adults with mental and physical disabilities at Riding for the Disabled, a charity of which Dame Judi is patron. Dench is also the principal patron of the British Thoroughbred Retraining Centre; an organization that re-homes ex-racehorses.

This year’s Grand National will take place on April 14th and we wish Dame Judi all the best.

To contact Heather:
E-mail: heather@mpt.org
Address: Afternoon Tea
Maryland Public Television
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Owings Mills, MD 21117

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Afternoon Tea is Maryland Public Television's weekday presentation of British programs.
Our host and Tea Lady is Heather Sanderson.
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