Far from being exclusively the preserve of the moneyed elite, race horse ownership is becoming more affordable that ever before. Georgie Lane-Godfrey sizes up a fetlock against her bank balance…
When you think of the term ‘money to burn’, the same few ideas usually spring to mind. Things like buying an Italian sports car or heading to Sotheby’s to bag yourself an exceptional work of art. Or perhaps owning your own race horse.
But if it’s the latter, you might be pleasantly surprised. Because while fast cars and masterpieces will always take their toll on your wallet, racehorse ownership can start from as little as £100 a month.
Don’t believe us? Have a Google – something which incidentally 73% of racehorse owners do first before investing. One of the first sites you’ll come across is inthepaddock.co.uk, the new platform launched by Great British Racing. Dedicated to helping people find affordable syndicates, this site is a gold mine of information for first-timers looking to dip their toes into the world of ownership.
“Being part of a syndicate or racing club is a brilliant way for race fans to take their love of the sport to the next level,” explains Rod Street, Chief Executive of Great British Racing. “Inthepaddock.co.uk debunks the misconception that ownership is only the domain of the super wealthy and provides a simple mechanism for individuals and groups of friends to find clubs that will suit both them and their pockets.”
Of course, picking the best syndicate isn’t just about price – it’s about finding the right trainer, too. Take Ruth Carr. The Yorkshire-based trainer has several syndicates on her yard including a group of accountants known as the ‘Bottomliners’ and a particularly fun-loving posse named the ‘Beer Stalkers’.
The main draw, according to Carr, is the sense of community that syndicated ownership brings. Her owners regularly socialize together at the yard, with the Christmas sweepstake organized by Carr proving particularly popular.
But it’s not just the owners who seem happy. The thing which is most striking about Carr’s yard though is just how gloriously contented the horses look. Carr is a firm believer that a happy horse will run a better race, and so turns her racers out in a paddock together every day without fail. Visit her yard and you’ll see a herd of up to 18 in a field together, merrily cantering around, ears pricked, tails swishing.
It’s a heart-warming sight, but also a financially compelling one. Carr offers the chance to buy into a horse for as little as £120 a month on the basis of a six-month commitment. This sum will not only get you 2.5% of the horse, but a coveted owners and trainers badge for days out at the races to watch it run.
It’s an affordable commitment, and one which becomes all the more tempting when you hear that Carr horses can run at they most prestigious meetings, including one entry on Derby day this year.
Meanwhile, closer to home, it’s the Ebor Festival which is the hot ticket. While it’s commonly referred to as the ‘Royal Ascot of the North’, this analogy doesn’t quite do Ebor justice. The festival is a laid-back affair, with none of the stuffiness of its southern counterpart. For example, book yourself a table at the York Restaurant, and instead of fussy nouvelle cuisine you’ll find a bountiful buffet for both lunch and afternoon tea.
The atmosphere is far more jovial, too. When I unceremoniously drop my strawberry-laden skewer in the chocolate fountain, friendly onlookers merely laugh. It’s indicative of the meeting – Ebor is far more about having a good time rather than standing on ceremony.
What’s more, the racing itself is first class. When we visit on the opening day, during which the Group 1 Juddmonte International Stakes is the signature race.
Having been previously won by the likes of Frankel, this is Britain’s highest rated race with prize money rising to £1 million this year.
This year, Roaring Lion stormed home under Oisin Murphy, beating the favourite by three and a half lengths. In fact, it was so decisive a victory that Murphy took Roaring Lion on a lap of honour along the course to the soak in the applause from the crowd.
While £100 a month might not buy you a Roaring Lion, it does guarantee you one thing all race-goers want – the chance to get closer to the heart of the action.
Tempted? Visit www.inthepaddock.co.uk to find out more. For further information about Ruth Carr training and the team, visit www.ruthcarrracing.co.uk, and for an insight into horse racing in the UK visit www.greatbritishracing.com.