Updated: Nov 23, 2020
I always say to potential shareholders, for want of a better description. Imagine you are down the pub on a Friday night and chatting to mates, it's inevitable that after discussing the weather ad nauseam, someone at some time is going ask what you are doing at the weekend. It is not unusual for the response to be either, 'shopping with the missus' or some boring, 'have-put-it-off-five-times-already-but-been-told-have-to-get-it-done-this-weekend DIY job' or the “down the pub again, comment.” So, imagine your smugness when you tell your mates that you are off to see YOUR horse race at York, Ascot or some other great course and that you are meeting the trainer and the jockey. Finally, and just for good measure, rub it in with the added, “Oh and then we will have a meal and a few drinks at the bar before heading out to the course; and marvellously it doesn’t have to cost you a fortune.
For as little as £75 a month you can enjoy the wonderful experience of a horse owner, and If you are lucky enough to have bought into a steed that is above average in terms of performance so pushing up the resale value, then that is an additional financial benefit to boot. Clippidy, bloody clop!
Words of warning
So, horse syndication sounds great, does it not? Well, for the vast majority it is but let us remember it is a business, and like all businesses subject to its fair share of unscrupulous ne'er do wells, so take this as a cautionary note. When you consider, and I was very much surprised by these figures, that over 60% of racehorses trained in The United Kingdom are in some form of co-ownership, and you then add to the mix that the thoroughbred gee-gee breeding programme accounted for £500 million in 2018 for the UK economy, you can understand the temptations that present themselves.Before you invest, you could do worse than have a look at The Racehorse Owners Association (ROA) which promotes and protects the interests of racehorse owners in Great Britain. As one of the British Horse racing Authority’s shareholders, it plays a central role in British racing politics and finance. You can find it HERE to discover all about what they do, and take note. . . You should always speak to the racing club or syndicate organiser at length to get more information and the financial commitment involved before signing up. Always make sure you have a written agreement in place.
Please do not let my comments come across as too “Doom and Gloom,” as they are certainly not intended that way. Racing has cleaned up its act up big time with regulatory bodies having done their job particularly well over the past 30 years.Racing syndicates, horse owner cooperatives or racing clubs offer a relatively affordable way to experience the wonderful feeling of what it is like to own a racing horse and all that goes with the sport from an insider viewpoint. It is an opportunity to experience the thrills and spills with the additional benefit of providing a way to meet new friends and old colleagues. If you are thinking of getting involved in joint ownership of a horse, do not get racing syndication confused with Racing Clubs. In a Racing Club scenario, you may well part with some money, but you do not have any ownership rights on a horse. Once again, the ROA can put you straight regarding all kinds of stuff relating to shared ownership.
There are many Syndicates throughout the country, of that I was more than aware before I got involved in “buying in.” Like me, you should do your homework before you choose which team to partner with. I have been fortunate in as much as I have a good friend, Steve Bedworth who is Manager of the Ontoawinner Horse Racing Syndicate. This is not an advertisement for his business, but a matter of fact.When Tony Talbot of fiftyfiveUP.com asked me to do a “piece” on this subject, Steve was the first guy I called on to see if I could do a brief interview. I started off by asking him.
Nigel. “How did you get into the syndicate side of racing?
”Steve. "Gosh, it is a few years back now, but friends formed OTAW in July of 2011 and asked me to join in the September to sell shares and help out on marketing. It proved successful and so I suppose you could say that I graduated to syndicate manager. I tell everybody that is interested because it is true, that you can get an awful lot of enjoyment for not very much money being part of a syndicate. We start with shares from 2.5% with an upfront payment that includes training fees of £75. You receive one owner’s badge for this and your proportional share of prize money and re-sale. 5% shares are a deposit upfront and all-inclusive training fees of £150 for which you receive 2 owner’s badges and 5% of proportional prize money and re-sale. There is a minimum contractual period of 12 months. You can visit your horse whenever you want and are arranged through The Ontoawinner Management Team.
Keeping you informed - Newsletter
We send out a newsletter on Sunday’s with information on all the Ontoawinner horses. You receive a text and email when your horse is declared, and we send out an email the night before the race with our thoughts on your horse’s chances.
Gamble or Investment
So, is it a gamble or investment? I never offer race horse syndication as an investment, it is something that is fun to be involved with that offers a great deal in terms of socialising with great days out, stable visits, mornings on the gallops and the euphoric feeling of having a winner is just off the scale. Hence why I never offer it up as an investment; it can be if everything goes well but there are a lot of horses and many, many races during the season, so the odds, regardless of what people say are invariably against you.
”Nigel. “So, Steve, do you have any tips, excuse the pun, for finding that right syndicate?
”Steve. “There are plenty about Nigel, I suggest you have a good look around and like any other business venture make sure any syndicate you like the look of is financially sound (some over past couple of years have gone bust leaving owners considerably out of pocket). some like Elite have tens of thousands of owners, they are inexpensive to join , but such a large number of owners can't go racing at the same time, so they ballot owners badges which means you may only go racing once a year, which seems to defeat the object for me. We are very flexible with badges and if owners want to take a couple of friends we offer a discount rate of £10 for local tracks for your guests! One final bit of advice from me is to also ensure the fees are all inclusive, you don't want to be getting bills for vets, transportation or any other hidden extras.”
Speaking for myself, and having listened to Steve, I know that that part ownership of a horse can be a good crack. If you have a small amount of money to have a bit of fun with I really recommend joining a syndicate, maybe with some good friends to really enjoy this unique experience. It is like anything else though, and without wishing to sound patronising; don't get involved if there is a chance you are going to spend over and above your means.