Sam Waley-Cohen, CEO of Portman Dental Care, one of the UK’s largest dental groups, hit international headlines when he won the Grand National on a 50-1 outsider in his final ever ride. But the multi-millionaire entrepreneur is perhaps better known for his role in rekindling the romance between Prince William and Kate Middleton in 2007, long before their fairytale marriage.
After playing matchmaker at a party held at his family’s 17th century mansion in Oxfordshire, the pair were seen holidaying together in the Seychelles and reports of a reconciliation emerged. While Waley-Cohen played down his role in the love story, he was invited to the royal wedding in 2011 and was one of the first to receive congratulations from his erstwhile couple after his National win.
Waley-Cohen is no stranger to success. A keen horseman since childhood, he won the Cheltenham Gold Cup on Long Run in 2011, steered Noble Yeats, a horse owned by his father, to victory in the Grand National and owns dozens of bloodstock horses. Portman Dental, which Waley-Cohen founded in 2009, is valued at more than £300m ($413m) and is one of the largest privately-owned UK dental businesses with 200 practices at home and abroad.
It has been named Outstanding Business of the Year at the Dental Industry Awards for four straight years since 2017. On its website, the company notes that Waley-Cohen set up the business to be the best rather than the biggest privately-owned dental group, succeeding in its aim to provide “outstanding clinical experience” to its growing patient list of more than 700,000 people.
Waley-Cohen has announced his official retirement from racing, but Noble Yeats will be back at Aintree to defend his National crown in April. While there is certain to be plenty of interest in the horse’s chances, there is perhaps more intrigue surrounding the man who helped bring together the future king and queen of the UK.