Professional footballers are lucky enough to have lots of expendable income and plenty of free time.

It’s little wonder then that so many of them find the allure of horse racing irresistible and unlike the average punter, they’re in a position where rather than just bet on horses, they can actually own them.

John Smiths Grand NationalThe players and staff at St James’ Park have proved no exception to this rule over the years. Here are five Newcastle players turned racehorse owners.

5. Michael Owen

During his hugely disappointing Newcastle career, Michael Owen was often hit with the criticism that he was more interested in horse racing than playing for the Magpies.

Owen got the racing bug at an early age, picking out selections for his father’s weekly accumulators. Since retiring, Owen has very much made the sport of kings his life. Recruiting the up and coming trainer Tom Dascombe, Owen’s Manor House Stables trains over 100 horses, including many owned by former footballing colleagues such as Wayne Rooney.

4. Mick Channon

If Owen in the modern day player most synonymous with horse racing, then Mick Channon  is the blast from football’s past who has achieved more than anyone in his second career.

Channon had a brief spell with Newcastle in 1982 during the final years of his career. Having retired in 1986 he started work as an assistant trainer. In 1990 he went solo and

has become one of the sport’s most esteemed trainers, producing his first Classic winner in 2012 when Samitar won the Irish 1,000 Guineas.

3. Joey Barton

Joey Barton’ Twitter followers will know that the Morrissey-quote-copier-and-paster is a big fan of indie music.

To further prove his indie credentials,  the former Newcastle midfielder has named his racehorse Crying Lightning, after the Arctic Monkeys song. The horse is co-owned by Barton and the former Peruvian international Claudio Pizarro.

2. Kevin Keegan

Kevin Keegan’s dad reputedly bought him his first pair of football boots with the proceeds of a jackpot win at the races.

It’s little wonder then that Keegan fell in love with horse racing himself. The former Newcastle legend owned horses that were trained by his former Southampton and England colleague Mick Channon and even ran his own stables in Hampshire.

1. Micky Quinn

A goalscoring legend at Newcastle between 1989 and 1992, Micky Quinn turned his back on football and embraced horse racing in 1996, having been turned down for the Burnley manager job.

Quinn became a racehorse trainer and has stables Newmarket, Suffolk, which he juggles with his broadcasting commitments in both racing and football.

His horse racing career has not always proved plain sailing, however.  In 2001, Quinn lost his training license for 18 months, after being found guilty of neglecting three horses at his stables.