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Waley-Cohen is the son of Felicity Ann (Samuel) and businessman, racehorse breeder and trainer Robert Waley-Cohen, nephew of the theatre owner and producer Sir Stephen Waley-Cohen Bt. and grandson of Lord Mayor of London, Bernard Waley-Cohen. His maternal grandfather was Marcus Samuel, 3rd Viscount Bearsted the founder of Shell Oil.
Waley-Cohen married Annabel Ballin in 2012.
Waley-Cohen was reported in the sports' pages in 2007 when he came 5th on his father's horse Liberthine in the Grand National. He won the delayed 2010 King George VI Chase in January 2011 on Long Run, preventing Kauto Star from winning the race for a record fifth consecutive year.
In 2011, Sam Waley-Cohen also won the Cheltenham Gold Cup chase on his father's horse Long Run. He is the first amateur jockey in 30 years to win the race. In the 2012 and 2013 runnings they finished third to Synchronised and Bobs Worth respectively.'
He started his career at Louis Dreyfus Trading Ltd in London - spending time with the successful sugar trading division. Waley-Cohen has also built up the Portman Healthcare chain of dental practices since he started the business in 2009. By March 2011 the business had grown to eight dental practices employing 170 staff and by 2013 it has grown to 15 dental practices. His business activities saw him nomianted as Spears young entrepreneur of the year in 2011
Waley-Cohen is a Celebrity Ambassador for The Bone Cancer Research Trust (BCRT) and was famously pictured with Katherine Middleton at the Roller Disco he organised to raise money for a ward in memory of his brother. He is also a trustee of the injured jockey fund, and founder of the TAWC Fund.
- "Kauto Star third as Long Run wins King George VI". BBC. 15 January 2011. Retrieved 17 March 2011.
- Chadband, Ian (15 March 2011). "City slicker Sam Waley-Cohen swaps his suit for silks in Gold Cup". Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 17 March 2011.
- The Daily Telegraph, 9 Mar 2012, Online, accessed 9 Mar 12
- "RACING: Waley-Cohen disappointed by Long Run's defeat". Oxford Mail. 16 March 2013. Retrieved 16 March 2013.
- Marcus Armytage (7 February 2007). "Sam working hard to be National hero". London: telegraph.co.uk.
- "Sam Waley-Cohen: Mountaineer, businessman, pilot, skier... oh, and jockey". The Independent (London). 11 March 2011.