Two charities have funded surgery on a former racehorse once owned by former England football captain Wayne Rooney, as it is thought his most recent owner could not pay for his care.

Switcharooney, a seven-year-old who raced unsuccessfully six times on the Flat, is being cared for by the Racehorse Rescue Centre (RRC), Carlisle, after an operation to remove a keratoma, funded by the centre and Retraining of Racehorses (RoR).

“Switch” retired from racing in 2013 and was then looked after at a yard which was until recently owned by the Premier League striker’s business manager Paul Stretford.

“He was lovingly cared for and all necessary veterinary and other bills were paid in full,” said a spokesman for Mr Rooney and Mr Stretford, who added that Mr and Mrs Rooney no longer own the horse. He said the stables were sold in August this year, after which Switch was given to a man with whom he had a “special bond”.

“He gave full assurances that he would continue to care for him and would pay any necessary veterinary bills,” said the spokesman.

The horse has had additional owners since then and it appears the most recent of these was unable to afford to pay for the operation the horse required, which RoR and the Racehorse Rescue Centre have subsequently funded. 

RRC volunteer Nigel Wood told H&H: “We stepped in because Switch needed the operation.”

“We’ll look after him and hopefully bring him back into work; we’re hopeful he’ll be able to be ridden.”

Mr Wood added that the centre, a small charity run entirely by volunteers, offers equine therapy to a number of patients, and he believes Switch will be a good candidate for taking part in this due to his calm nature.

An RoR spokesman told H&H: “The encouraging news is that the horse is recovering well and in good hands for a full recovery.

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“Switcharooney maybe of note on account of who owned the gelding when it was racing, but the case is essentially an example of RoR’s safety net working effectively to provide care for a horse on account of a set of circumstances that are not uncommon. Arguably former racehorses are fortunate in that there is a system in place to help them, which cannot be said for all other breeds.”

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