Hugh Bonneville and his new racehorse with Highclere Thoroughbred Racing at Richard Hannon's yard, Wiltshire.

Hugh Bonneville and his new racehorse with Highclere Thoroughbred Racing at Richard Hannon's yard, Wiltshire.

Matthew Webb

Downton Abbey Star Joins Highclere Syndicate

Actor Hugh Bonneville latest to join leading European racing partnership group.

Actor Hugh Bonneville, who plays Lord Grantham in the popular television drama Downton Abbey, has become the latest high-profile owner with the leading European partnership group Highclere Thoroughbred Racing, the company announced Dec. 20.

The British actor, who is also famous for his roles in Notting Hill and Twenty Twelve, is now part owner of two yearlings in one of the Highclere syndicates.

"I am thrilled to become an owner with Highclere," Bonneville remarked. "I thought it was about time I became properly educated in the 'Sport of Kings.' It's a terrific opportunity and to be able to attend the races as an owner really is very exciting. I can't wait."

Bonneville is part of the Petrushka Syndicate, which owns a Fastnet Rock filly out of the High Chaparral mare Labisa, in training with Richard Hannon, and a Danehill Dancer colt out of the Efisio mare Riberac, in training with Sir Michael Stoute.

Highclere Thoroughbred Racing was started in 1992 by the son of the late seventh Earl of Carnarvon, the Hon. Harry Herbert, whose family home, Highclere Castle, is where Downton Abbey is filmed. Season three of the British-American period drama, created by Julian Fellowes and co-produced by Carnival Films and Masterpiece, premiers in the U.S. Jan. 6 on PBS.

"It is great to have Hugh on board as one of our owners at Highclere and we wish him all possible luck with these two lovely yearlings," Herbert said. "Both have fabulous pedigrees and have been bought by my brother-in-law, John Warren, whose record is second to none."

John Warren is a director of Highclere Thoroughbred Racing and also is bloodstock advisor to Her Majesty The Queen.

Highclere Thoroughbred Racing has campaigned seven champions to date including 2010 English highweight Harbinger, winner of the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes (Eng-I) at Ascot. The group is also pointing the promising Galileo colt Telescope to the 2013 Investec Epsom Derby (Eng-I).

Among the group's high-profile partners are Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, actress Elizabeth Hurley, English rugby legend Lawrence Dallaglio, Olympic gold medalist Denise Lewis, and English adventurer, television personality, and writer Ben Fogle.