Posted on: February 5, 2024, 06:16h.
Last updated on: February 5, 2024, 06:16h.
A racehorse owned by the UK’s most controversial couple may be pulled from England’s famous Grand National steeplechase, despite being one of the favorites for the race.
Monbeg Genius is owned by Baroness Michelle Mone and her husband, Doug Barrowman, and is priced by bookmakers at 20/1 to win, making it third favorite.
But the couple is at the center of a media storm. Mone and Barrowman are currently under investigation by the National Crime Agency, the UK’s version of the FBI, over alleged links to PPE Medpro, a company that won government contracts worth £202 million to produce PPE equipment during the Covid-19 pandemic.
PPE Medpro Scandal
Mone, a Scottish former model who founded the lingerie company Ultimo in 1996, was made a “life peer” in September 2015 for her services to business. This allowed her to sit in the House of Lords, the UK’s upper house, and call herself Baroness Mone of Mayfair.
PPE Medpro was contracted to supply facemasks and surgical gowns without competitive tenders under COVID-19 emergency rules that waived regular procedures.
In January 2022, it emerged that Mone used her government position to “aggressively” recommend Medpro for the contract five days before the company had been incorporated.
Despite the couple’s repeated denials of involvement with PPE Medpro,
The Guardian reported in November 2022 that an offshore trust received £29 million from the company via a series of transactions involving Barrowman. Mone and her children were the beneficiaries of the trust.
In late January, it was reported that £75 million-worth of assets controlled by the couple had been “frozen or restrained” by a court order obtained by Crown prosecutors.
Meanwhile, the British Horseracing Authority is investigating whether Monbeg Genius is one of those frozen assets. The eight-year-old gelding was purchased by Mone in November 2020 as a wedding present for her husband.
The BHA is aware of reports regarding a court order in relation to the assets of Michelle Mone and Doug Barrowman,” a British Horseracing Authority spokesperson said in a statement. “We are in contact with the relevant individuals to understand what implications, if any, there are for their involvement with racing.”
Should Monbeg Genius be free to run, as has been suggested by
The Daily Mirror, it would be bad optics for the BHA.
The Grand National is a national institution and the only horse racing event with which the general public engages every year. For bookmakers, it’s huge because it captures the “one-bet-a-year” demographic – those that choose to place a bet because they see it as a harmless tradition.
The race comes with a £500K prize for the owner of the winning horse. Should Monbeg Genius run, and come through at 20/1, he may just be the most unpopular winner in the race’s 185-year history.