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An Arm and Four Legs: A Journey into Racehorse Ownership
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- Seabiscuit vs War Admiral: the horse race that stopped the nation.
- An Arm and Four Legs : A Journey into Racehorse Ownership.
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Available only to approved bidders. You must be an authenticated member to ask questions Find out more about becoming authenticated. For the rest of the year, Aintree apart, jumps horses compete for much smaller prize money at smaller, sometimes obscure racetracks. It's not much different on the flat, with the five Classic races - 1, Guineas, 2, Guineas, Oaks, Derby and St Leger - combining with Royal Ascot and York's Ebor meeting to produce a pinnacle of equine quality and cash rewards.
The very best can be much higher. As their progeny hit the market, prices rise or tumble according to form, but the "high end" will always be expensive.
As an owner you have more chance of winning a Cheltenham Festival race or a Grand National than the Derby. Earth Summit was a good example. But why should you even consider ownership given the prospect of little success and a poor return on your investment? In my case it was almost certainly the onset of a genetic inheritance.
My father took me racing from an early age and no family holiday was complete without a visit to York, Chester, Redcar, Newton Abbot or whatever racecourse happened to be on the way. My father also operated as a bookie's runner pre when there were no betting shops, collecting money and bets from fellow factory workers. Later, he worked on Saturdays as a "settler" of bets in a bookmaker's. But it took decades of race-going before I took the step to becoming an owner.
Just when I should have been putting money into Isas, I bought into a racehorse partnership. It involved only a few hundred pounds a year but it gave me new status on the track. I could wear an "owner's badge", rub shoulders with trainers and other owners in "our" designated racecourse bar, inspect "my" horse in the parade ring and welcome it back to the winner's enclosure. Except that it didn't happen that way. The first run, at Warwick on the last day of , ended with the horse finishing stone last.
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The only emotion was humiliation. It was a chastening introduction. And yet anyone buying racehorses will tell you that the convivial pleasure of a day at the track is immeasurable, as is the contact with your horse and its trainer. You have laughs, a few drinks, hear lots of jokes and inside stories, and also get the occasional betting tip. Best of all you get to dream.
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Such as the day she scooted through the winter mud at Huntingdon to claim fourth place in a hot race of highly promising horses. Or when I very nearly had to go home on the train from Stratford carrying a 4ft silver trophy, the "nearly" element being that "DD" finished second. Then came her only win, on Thursday, 8 November I couldn't be there but after parking my sons outside the betting shop, I watched open-mouthed as Doris, at , stormed up Towcester's hill to beat a Martin Pipe-trained, Tony McCoy-ridden odds-on favourite.
But my share never appeared, being eaten away by race-entry fees, jockeys' fees, administration costs and vets' bills.
But without that recompense, I'd still have got involved because racehorse ownership offers not just surreal drama but also an escape from everyday drudgery that's worth every penny. One way to save costs is by forming a partnership with friends. You can buy a horse through advertisements in the Racing Post or by contacting a trainer and telling him or her how much you want to spend and see if he or she has anything going spare. Or you can attend one of the British Horseracing Board's ownership seminars. The more serious option is to go to one of the sales but you'd need an expert eye for company.
The top end of racing, in both codes, is for the well-wedged only. Landed gentry and self-made millionaires such as Jim Lewis the owner of the double Gold Cup winner Best Mate and Andrew Wylie the founder of Sage software are involved with the jumps. On the flat, Arab princes, City bonus-boys and those Irish business magnates that Sir Alex is back on speaking terms with, battle for millions. But just off the peak of this game, there's good value entertainment to be had. And after all, how much fun can you have with an Isa? Vera Boyd works for a merchant bank in London. She commutes to Ayrshire at weekends where she owns three fillies bred by Silver Patriarch, a St Leger winner, who are almost ready to race.
While living near Newmarket I got into the racing fraternity and after a few too many drinks one night I decided to breed my own racehorse. I believe one of my fillies will be a good horse. What began as a bit of a laugh has become an exhilarating obsession. The BHB is in charge of policy, promotion, funding and race planning, having taken these responsibilities over from the Jockey Club who are left with integrity and security matters a decade ago.
Their website www.
There are also lists of all registered trainers and the best stallions, their costs and their pedigrees. This Wellingborough-based organisation has been racing's "Civil Service" since It collects entry fees, jockeys' fees and registration costs, and distributes prize-money.
An Arm And Four Legs eBook by Stan Hey - | Rakuten Kobo
It advises on racing colours and horses' names. The company can also provide equine insurance for illness, injury or loss. The Stallion Book is online. The RoA does what it says on the tin www. Stan Hey did.