The eight-strong partnership is fronted by Newcastle-born and Carlisle-based Ian Robinson, 48, who founded Our Friends In The North in 2003. Robinson is CEO of a marine telecommunications company in the northeast and is joined in the syndicate by his wife, Gillian. They are both Newcastle United season ticket holders.
Ian first went to Cheltenham with his dad as an 11-year-old to see The Dikler win the 1973 Gold Cup, after which he told his father that one day he himself would win the great steeplechase. That assertion came to fruition when Imperial Commander won impressively for the syndicate in March.
Our Friends In The North also includes Hugh and Kay Doubtfire. Hugh runs his own corporate entertainment business, as does fellow syndicate member Denise Sheasby. The syndicate is completed by shop fitters Carston Henrikson and Martin Maxted, and Manchester-based carpet fitter Pete Williams.
The syndicate’s first horse, Bobby Dazzler, was a promising novice hurdler who landed a hat-trick in 2004, before his untimely death. The resultant insurance money was used to buy Imperial Commander.
Other horses currently under the syndicate’s ownership are smart bumper and novice hurdle winner Definitive Edge (trained by Willie Mullins), young point-to-pointers Highland Flash and Oscar’s Ballad (Mrs J B Ross), and useful handicap hurdler/chaser Valerius (Gordon Elliott). Robinson also runs other ownership entities, including the Jump For Fun Racing Club and the Hollow Bottom Syndicate.