In his heyday, in the Eighties, Terry Ramsden was the quintessential self-made Essex man of the Thatcherite era. A diminutive 5'4" tall and sporting the mullet hairstyle that was ubiquitous at the time, Ramsden once declared, in distinctive cockney tone: 'I'm a stockbroker from Enfield. I've got long hair and I like a bet.'
Born in Enfield, North London on January 19, 1952, Terry Ramsden proved financially astute, at least in his early years. By trading bonds on the Japanese stock market and gambling on horse racing, by 1984, he had raised sufficient capital to purchase the Edinburgh-based Glen International Financial Services Company. By 1987, he had increased the turnover of the company to £3.5 billion and his own net worth to £150 million.
By that stage, his royal blue and white hooped colours had become a familiar sight on British racecourses – at one point, he had 76 horses in training – and he had won, and lost, some eye-watering sums of money.
In May, 1984, for example, just days before the Irish 1,000 Guineas, Ramsden bought the filly Katies, unseen, for £500,000, but reputedly profited to the tune of £2.5 million when she won the Irish 1000 Guineas at odds of 20/1.
In 1986, on the Wednesday of the Cheltenham Festival he reputedly won in the region of £1 million when Motivator landed what is now the Pertemps Final and would have won a further £6 million if another of his horses, Brunico – an "immensely strong finisher" according to commentator Sir Peter O'Sullevan – had managed to overhaul Solar Cloud in the Triumph Hurdle the following day.
Ramsden had apparently been backing Brunico in doubles with Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Dawn Run for some time beforehand.
Shortly afterwards, Ramsden acquired Mr. Snugfit, who had finished second in the 1985 Grand National, and bet £50,000 each-way at 8/1 on his purchase for the 1986 renewal. Almost single-handedly, he ensured Mr. Snugfit was sent off 13/2 clear favourite for the National; the nine-year-old could manage no better than a distant fourth place, but Ramsden still collected £150,000 on the place portion of his bet.
Many years later, Ramsden claimed: 'The truth is I had half a million quid each way, quote, unquote. Anything else you hear is bullshit.'
Further high-profile successes followed, including Not So Silly in the Ayr Gold Cup in 1987, but his 'biggest single losing bet' – £1 million on another of his horses, Below Zero – and the sudden expected stock market crash, a.k.a. 'Black Monday', in October that year, effectively sounded the death knell for the Ramsden fortunes. Glen International collapsed and, in 1988, indebted to Ladbrokes to the tune of £2 million, Ramsden was 'warned off' by the Jockey Club for non-payment of the debt, thereby ending his interest in racehorse ownership.
Three years later, in 1991, Ramsden was arrested in Los Angeles at the behest of the Serious Fraud Office and imprisoned for six months, pending extradition back to Britain. On his return to home soil in 1992, he was declared bankrupt with debts of £100 million. The following year he escaped with a two-year suspended sentence after pleading guilty to recklessly inducing fresh investment in Glen International but, in 1997, was prosecuted again, at the Old Bailey, for failing to disclose assets worth £300,000; he was sentenced to 21 months' imprisonment, of which he served ten.
Following his release from prison in 1999, Ramsden went back to working in the financial industry, but could not return to racehorse ownership until 2003, when cleared to do so by the Jockey Club. His first winner as an owner since the halcyon days of the Eighties was the two-year-old Jake The Snake, bought for a modest 17,000 guineas, who landed a gamble when winning a maiden stakes race at Lingfield in November, 2003.