Meet Our Owner: Phil Cunningham
Phil Cunningham has enjoyed many successes as a horse owner and breeder.
After clubbing together with a few of his friends and business contacts, Phil bought his first horse back in 1993: Cool Temper. A yearling trained by the late and great Jack Banks, this young colt came second in his first six races – and it was this that ignited Phil’s enduring passion for horse racing.
After a series of investments in a number of horses, Phil acquired Rebel Rebel as a yearling in 2003. Trained by Neville Callaghan, Rebel Rebel took Phil and his partners on a journey to the top table. Having won the Easter Stakes at Kempton he went on to finish second in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket before being sold to continue his racing career in the US. The racing silks worn by Rebel Rebel are the same that are still used today by the Rebel Racing syndicates.
Phil went on to purchase his first horse outright in 2005. He knew there was something special about Cockney Rebel as soon as he set eyes on him, and he wasn’t wrong. Trained by Geoff Huffer, this Irish-bred specimen – who was a son of Val Royal – went on to win the 2000 Guineas Stakes and the Irish 2000 Guineas in the spring of 2007.
In 2008 Cockney Rebel was retired to stud and stood at The National Stud in Newmarket which prompted Phil’s first venture into breeding. His first home bred was also by the same stallion Val Royal, and went into training for Phil with Stan Moore under the name of Slim Shadey. After winning at 2 his claim to fame was finishing fourth to Frankel in the 2000 Guineas in Newmarket before moving to Simon Callaghan at Santa Anita where he won three Grade 2’s and was second in two Grade 1’s whilst still running for Phil.
Phil’s success spurred him to develop his racing career (flat & jumps) across England, Ireland, France and USA. Over the years, Phil has worked with an array of trainers, including Barry Hills, Charlie Hills, Donald McCain, Evan Williams, James Eustace, Neville Callaghan, Eoghan O’Neill, Peter Chapple-Hyam, Simon Callaghan, Stan Moore and Venetia Williams.
In 2016, Phil acquired Albert House Stables in Newmarket, and later expanded into Sefton Lodge training yard in 2018 in order to develop his private training operations. After joining forces with our trainer, Richard Spencer, he enjoyed a win at Royal Ascot in their first full season, sweeping the Coventry Stakes with then-two-year-old Rajasinghe.
Phil’s biggest motivation has always been to win more high-grade races. However, he’s not interested in doing things the way they’ve always been done. Phil brings ambitious energy and a forward-thinking approach that has been instrumental in putting Rebel Racing on the map.
A lifelong music fan, you’ll often find that Phil’s horses are named after his favourite songs or artists – a quirk that adds a fun twist to Rebel Racing’s Playlists page.
Phil is also dedicated to using his position to raise money for deserving causes. He supports the work of The Little Edi Foundation; Whilst under Phil’s ownership, all prize money won by Little Edi, his own bay gelding, was donated to this Essex-based charity, which campaigns to help young people and vulnerable families in the local community.