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get into


ownership Text: Amy Sherman photos: The Racehorse Association (RAO)

sport racehorse ownership

Types of ownership racing clubs This is probably the best way for someone to become a racehorse owner for the first time. It involves the least amount of cost and responsibility, while still offering many of the perks of being a full owner, such as seeing your horse run and visiting its stables. You pay a one-off annual fee and the club is managed by a racing manager - the perfect solution if you want to be more hands-off and leave the decisions to someone else. Further information on racing clubs can be found on the Racing Syndicates and Clubs Association website:

leasing This is another way of entering into the fun of racehorse ownership without any long-term commitment. You can lease a horse from an owner or trainer for a season without any capital outlay, after which time the horse goes back to its original owner. During this time, you will have all the enjoyment of ownership and receive an agreed share of the prize money, but you will also pay all of the training fees.

Imagine the roar of the crowd as your horse turns into the straight; the jockey jostles into position and drives the horse to push through to the finish with its head in front. If you have been fortunate enough to experience the thrill of horseracing and, better still, backed a winner, then you will already be familiar with the adrenaline rush it gives you. Well, imagine the thrill of knowing that you own the winning horse. Racehorse ownership is no longer reserved just for the elite and there are many options available to help spread the costs, while still enjoying the full involvement of owning a racehorse. There is the fun of buying your horse, picking a name, choosing your colours, watching your horse train on the gallops and, of course, the thrill and anticipation of being in the paddock before and after a race, listening in as your trainer discusses race tactics with your jockey. Watching your horse run is exhilarating from the moment the stalls open or the tape goes up. Win or lose, the experience is electrifying and, by owning a racehorse, you are right in the thick of it. xxx


There are several different types of lease agreements, just one of which is the free lease option, as explained above. The Racehorse Owners Association and the Thoroughbred Breeders Association operate the Free Lease Exchange and can also offer advice on all aspects of leasing. Details can be found on the Racehorse Owners Association website:

partnerships & syndicates Getting a partnership or syndicate together with your friends, colleagues or family is a great way to share the thrills and spills of racehorse ownership. You can choose the colours that your team’s horse will run in, and it is a great way of sharing the cost: the more people who become involved, the less expensive it is for each of them. Further information on this type of ownership can be found on the Racing Syndicates and Clubs Association website:

outright ownership

raceday privileges

This is the most expensive of the options, but it also gives you greatest control and, potentially, the greatest excitement. You get to be involved in the complete journey, from choosing and buying the horse, deciding who will train it and ultimately deciding where it will run and which jockey will ride it. Best of all, if the horse is successful, you are the sole beneficiary of the prize money and the horse’s appreciating value. For further information on outright ownership, contact the Racehorse Owners Association by visiting:

Racehorse owners are well looked after at the races, with complimentary badges and in many instances, exclusive bars and viewing areas. Winning connections are often offered celebratory champagne after their race, whilst re-living their victory on-screen.

Benefits of ownership prize money If your horse is successful, you can expect to receive prize money. In all races, the first three finishers are entitled to prize money and in some races the fourth also receives a cash prize. Most racecourses also give the winning connections a trophy or memento to keep as a reminder of their success. Prize money levels are highest in the top quality races at the bigger meetings and most important tracks.

racehorse owners assoc The Racehorse Owners Association (ROA) promotes and protects the interests of racehorse owners in Britain. The benefits of membership include special car park badges and free entry to many race meetings. Details can be found on their website:

sponsorship opportunities Racing silks, paddock sheets and jackets can be branded with a sponsor’s logo. If you allow your horse to be sponsored, you can register for VAT and reclaim the VAT on almost all of your racing-related expenses, including training fees, transport costs and even the initial purchase price of the horse. To find out more about this valuable scheme, visit the ownership section on the British Horseracing Authority website:



sport racehorse ownership

sport racehorse ownership

when your horse runs is an important and fun part of the process. To choose and register the racing colours your jockey will carry on your racehorse, visit:

Buying a horse Before acquiring your racehorse, you will need to decide whether you want to focus on Flat or Jump Racing. The British Turf Flat Season runs from late March through to early November, with All-Weather Flat Racing taking place throughout the year. The main Jumps Season extends over the winter from October and ends in April. There is also Summer Jumping from May through until September. When considering the purchase of a horse, it is important to seek the advice of a professional to help with the buying process and the selection of a suitable animal. A trainer or a bloodstock agent can help greatly with this process. Bloodstock agents will charge approximately 5% of the purchase price for their services. In return, they will provide their professional opinion as to whether the horse has the potential to perform at the required level and estimate the likely cost to acquire the horse. The Federation of Bloodstock Agents website provides a list of accredited bloodstock agents:,but also check out the British Bloodstock Marketing website

the thoroughbread sales public auction The majority of racehorses are sold at public auction at some point during their lives, and buying from the sales is common practice to acquire a racehorse. The main bloodstock auctioneers in Britain are:

★ Naming your horse is another important part of ownership, and finding a suitable name can be a fun challenge. ★ Insurance is also available for owners to protect their investment.

The Race pre-race Some horses perform better on softer ground and others on firmer, so the weather can be a major deciding factor. If all has gone according to plan, the trainer will declare the horse to run either 24 or 48 hours in advance of the race. The Racing Post displays entries made for races as well as declarations and these can be found on their website:

at the races

Choosing a trainer Involvement with your stable, mornings on the gallops, following your horse’s progress and memorable days out at the races are all key elements of a fulfilling ownership experience. Points to consider when selecting a trainer are:

• Tattersalls Doncaster Bloodstock Sales Brightwells To find out more about buying at auction, visit the British Bloodstock Marketing website:

private sale A horse can be bought privately from its current owner, usually through an advertisement or by word-of-mouth. Through this method, the vendor and purchaser can agree the price and specific terms of sale. It is recommended that the horse is given a thorough veterinary examination before agreeing a sale. xxx


Form – how successful the stable has been to date; • Location of the stables; • Stable visits - times and days of the week the trainer prefers. The Trainers Directory on The British Horseracing Authority website lists details of all licensed trainers in Britain. It is searchable by county and is a helpful tool when considering an approach to a trainer. Visit: The National Trainers Federation is also a good source of information:

Costs of ownership purchase price The price of each racehorse varies greatly depending on its pedigree (family lineage),

individual conformation (the horse’s physical make-up) and previous performance (if raced). Whilst it is important to seek professional advice when becoming an owner, it is fair to assume that horses with better pedigrees and conformation cost more money. On the other hand, every year there are also top class winners that cost next to nothing. A good example of this is Sir Percy, who was bought at the sales for £16,800, a small sum when considering that he won the The Derby in 2006 and his career earnings totalled well over £1million, not to mention his ongoing value at stud.

running costs The average cost to keep a horse in training per year can vary greatly, but approximately £20,000 is a reasonable guideline. However, this amount will vary depending on your choice of trainer and can broadly be expected to include the following: ★ Training Fees include the costs to feed and exercise the horse, wages for stable staff and the professional eye of the trainer monitoring the horse’s progress and ability. Training fees will vary and some trainers will have an all-inclusive rate, which means that costs such as routine veterinary care, gallops and

farriery costs are included. Others will charge a base rate with the items listed below charged additionally.

★ Transport costs to transfer the horse to and from the races. ★ Staff overtime when travelling to the races.

★ Gallop fees are charged in order to maintain the gallops on which the racehorse is trained. Gallops are either privately owned, in which case the trainer will generally include the maintenance costs in the training fees, or are public gallops owned by independent organisations, in which case owners are charged individually for use. ★ Routine veterinary care is generally required to maintain the horse’s well-being. In order for the horse to perform at the race track, routine veterinary care needs to be administered, such as vaccinations, blood sampling and respiratory investigation. A racehorse is a highly-tuned athlete and as susceptible to injury as are human athletes, so niggling problems can occur. In the unfortunate event of an injury, on-going veterinary costs may be incurred in order to speed the horse’s recovery. ★ Blacksmith’s bills are another on-going cost as a horse’s metal shoes need to be replaced about every four to six weeks - a new set costs approximately £80.

★ Race entry fees vary from around £20 for a lower grade race to thousands for The Derby. ★ Jockey fees are charged each time a horse runs in a race. The fees vary from £100–£200, depending on whether the horse runs on the Flat or over Jumps. ★ Ownership registration fees Owners are charged small annual administration fees and are required to register the following: • • • •

The ownership Colours The racehorse (if it’s not already registered) The horse’s name (if unnamed)

Registration can be done via Weatherbys. visit: ★ colours/silks are worn during a race by the jockey to help identify each individual horse. Every owner or ownership type, in whose name a horse is to run, is required to register colours. Choosing the colours that will be worn

Most racecourses include a dress code on their website. There are plenty of places to shelter from the elements but for the most part you will be outside, so it is a good idea to dress accordingly. For ladies, it is a great opportunity to dress up and men generally wear a shirt and tie but not jeans, trainers or sports clothing. Once you have arrived at the races, owners’ badges can be collected from the owners and trainers’ entrance. As the pre-race anticipation builds, as well as soaking up the racing action, you can also enjoy a drink in one of the bars reserved for owners or have lunch in the owners and trainers’ facility, where there is often a host who will be happy to answer any questions you may have about your day. The trainer will arrange for the horse to be transported to the course and stabled shortly before the race is scheduled. The horses will then parade in the pre-parade ring from about 45 minutes before the race. Once your horse has left the pre-parade ring, it will be saddled by the trainer in one of the saddling boxes and then paraded in the main paddock before the race. In the paddock, owners get a chance to meet with the jockey and trainer in order to discuss race tactics. A bell rings when it is time for the jockeys to mount their horses, before they head down to the start.



useful websites

during the race There is very little that comes close to the thrill and anticipation of watching your horse run, so it is important to choose a good spot from which to watch the race. Most racecourses have designated viewing areas for owners and trainers, so you may get the best view from there.

Brightwells British Bloodstock Marketing BritishHorseracing Authority Doncaster Bloodstock Sales Racehorse Owners Association Racing Syndicates and Clubs Association Tattersalls The Federation of Bloodstock Agents The National Trainers Federation The Racing Post Weatherbys

The Celebration post-race Imagine the buzz of the crowd, people patting you on the back, as you make your way into the winners’ enclosure with your horse at your side. You punch the air with joy, the crowd cheers and everyone around you is elated. There are few feelings as great as owning the winning horse but, even if your horse has finished out of the frame, it is still a good idea to hear what the jockey has to say, and you can meet your team in the un-saddling area. Whether you are enjoying a celebratory glass of champagne or discussing why your horse did not come home with the silverware, it is always a nice gesture to tip the member of stable staff who looks

after your horse to thank them for their hard work. Win or lose, horseracing is a great day out, so if you are interested in finding out more about the thrill of horseracing, visit: ★

Racing for Change Racing Enterprises Limited 75 High Holborn, London WC1V 6LS Tel: 0207 152 0195 Email: Web:



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