Why the Happy Mondays dancer Bez is launching his own horse racing club

Bez Happy Mondays and race horse 290321 JULES ANNAN
Bez with Mystic Moonshadow. Credit: Jules Annan

He's famed for onstage antics with his maracas - but now Bez from the Happy Mondays is looking to shake things up in the world of horse racing.

The performer, whose real name is Mark Berry, is launching his own horse racing club to raise money for a Manchester homeless charity, despite being "a self-confessed racing novice".

Bez has bought a thoroughbred filly, which he has called Mystic Moonshadow, and is now inviting fans to buy into her, promising those who do "all the joys and nightmares of horse ownership without the cost."

Bez says the name Mystic Moonshadow came to him in a dream. Credit: Jules Annan

Membership of Bez's club costs £59.

Members will get a welcome pack and a handwritten postcard from Bez, along with a certificate of membership and a monthly newsletter on how Mystic Moonshadow is getting on.

Any winnings from the horse will be donated to Manchester-based homelessness charity, Coffee 4 Craig.

Bez is a long-standing supporter of the cause, after spending time sleeping rough as a young man, and says "I know what it's like to be homeless, I know what it's like to be hungry".

Bez admits to being a complete beginner in the sport - in fact, the 56 year old had only ever sat on a donkey before starting on this venture.

His only experience has been betting on the Grand National and reading Dick Francis novels as a child.

But he hopes to brush up on his equine knowledge, learn how to commentate on a race, and hone his horse riding skills.

Mystic Moonshadow will race in "United red and City blue" in tribute to Manchester's two largest football clubs.

The horse will be trained by Jedd O'Keeffe, who has trained a number of winners over the flat, hurdles and fences.

If coronavirus restrictions allow, members of Bez's racing club will also have the chance to visit the horse at the training yard or join Bez in the owners' enclosure on race day.

And while he may have more to learn about horse racing - Bez is keen to share his own area of expertise - and has already given groom Jess Barraclough a lesson in - what else -the maracas:

Bez hopes this project will offer people the chance to experience shared racehorse ownership - saying "obviously, I can’t promise we’re going to be winners, but I can promise that we’re going to have alot of fun, some great days out and hopefully we’ll all make some good friends as we get involved in the world of racing.

You can find out more about membership here.