An Interview with Top Owner Alison Jelley
Graham and Alison Jelley have been involved with racehorse ownership for approximately twenty years. Their colours are a familiar sight on National Hunt courses. They have had a successful association with Cogry, who won nine races and was placed an agonisingly close second in a Scottish Grand National. The promising four-year-old and recent winner Guard Your Dreams and One Forty Seven are in training with Nigel Twiston-Davies. In the past, Twiston-Davies also trained Lord Brock, Nikola (who won five races and finished second in a Grand Sefton over the Aintree fences), On Spec, Original Prankster, Alganon Pazam and Ballyarthur to name but a few. Fergal O’Brien trains the bumper winner Minella Tara, as well as, in the past, the popular grey Mystifiable, Cuddles McGraw and Isla Fernandos, who is now a brood mare.
The Jelleys live in Leicestershire, where the family business Jelson Homes is based. The company was founded by Graham’s great-grandfather and has been running since 1889. They celebrated 130 years of building in 2019. After 58 years in business, the company initially called J Jelley & Son integrated into Jelson Homes in 1947 and continues to be run by brothers Robert and Graham Jelley. Alison’s and Graham’s four children have also followed into the family business and at home, they have a dog, a cat and five chickens.
Alison kindly gave the lowdown on what owning racehorses is all about!
Alison and Graham Jelley with Cogry
Photo Credit: Sharon Slade
How did you initially get into racehorse ownership?
We joined a syndicate.
What was the inspiration behind the design of your racing colours?
They are made up of our favourite colours and our company Jelson has a red logo. We couldn’t have two colours as they had all gone so choose the red, yellow and black.
What was the first racehorse you owned?
Elegantissime was our first syndicate horse and Bouncingoffthewalls was our first as sole owners.
Photo Credit: Sarah Matthews
Who have been your trainers?
Kim Bailey, Nigel Twiston-Davies and Fergal O’Brien.
How many racehorses do you own at present?
We have five in training, plus a few youngsters.
Do you purchase photographs of your winners?
Usually we just have the photo that the racecourse sends after having a winner, but we have bought others very occasionally.
Do you have any favourite racehorses you owned?
Mine will always be Cogry, I loved him as soon as I saw him, and Graham’s was Ballyarthur as he was a big gorky sort.
What is your favourite racecourse?
Which racecourses look after owners the best and why?
Usually the more high-profile ones, Cheltenham is best for owners’ facilities.
What was your best day’s racing?
All of Cogry’s four wins at Cheltenham.
How do you name your unnamed purchases?
What has been your most memorable day’s racing?
Cheltenham Gold Cup Day 2010 when Imperial Commander won.
Generally, what does racing do well?
Racing is a great social event, that has large crowds to manage, all out to have a good time and generally they achieve this.
And how could it improve?
We don’t go racing unless we have a runner but usually the racecourses do try to make the day a special one, though catering is sometimes a bit hit and miss.