Ever wondered what goes into the preparation for a day at the races? One of the BG Racing horses, The Way You Dance, ran at Goodwood on the 4th May and I thought it might be interesting to outline what takes place in advance of a group of owners enjoying their day at the races!
I run BG Racing and have shareholders who own 1% upwards of each horse. It is my job to work alongside our trainer Neil Mulholland to pick the right races for our horses, communicate with the shareholders and manage the day at the races for those who are attending and those who cannot make it and our story starts a little ahead of our “week in the life”, but for completeness it is included here:
Thursday 25th April
I visit the stables to spend the morning with Neil and to check on our horses. The Way You Dance seems to have recovered from being a bit sore after his last race and he is probably ready to run again. I have already looked at the race options available for him and I feel that a race at Goodwood on the 4th May is the best one. Neil looks as well and readily agrees, so that is the plan and Neil puts the entry in on the BHA Racing Admin system.
Friday 26th April
I issue a communication to all The Way You Dance shareholders to update them on how he is
progressing and to alert them to the intended race. As this is a firm target, I ask people to let me know if they want to attend and would like me to get owners badges. Over the next couple of days, I receive and respond to badge requests from individual shareholders.
Monday 29th April
Entries for our race close at midday and I have a quick chat with Neil to confirm that everything
is OK, and we are happy for the entry to be confirmed.
Tuesday 30th April
I issue a communication to all shareholders to confirm the entry and the details of the race. This
also includes a reminder for those who want to come to Goodwood but have not yet told me!
Thursday 2nd May
Neil calls in advance of declarations at 10am, to discuss the state of the ground, which is as firm as
he would like it with limited rain in the forecast. He notes (correctly) that there are limited alternative targets for the horse in the following couple of weeks, and I am inclined to press on and run as the downhill stretch, the area where firm ground would inconvenience The Way You Dance, at Goodwood comes quite a long way from home, and I feel that this will be OK. Neil is happy to go along with this and we agree that the horse should be declared.
Shane Kelly has ridden The Way You Dance in his last three races and has provided us with excellent post-race feedback. He is not required at Newmarket and able to come to Goodwood, so we have no hesitation in booking him to ride. I email the course to request that badges are left at the gate for those that wish to attend. Goodwood allow 12 badges for syndicates, although they only provide a complimentary lunch if six or less are used. I have ten people attending so I arrange this, and then email the attendees to advise them of the dress code, and to confirm that position regarding lunch. There are still canapés and free tea and coffee in the owners and trainers bar, so we should be OK. Nick Swannell at Goodwood, who is always helpful when we have runners there, emails me to confirm all the badge allocations have been made, and that they have been passed to the gate team.
Friday 3rd May
I issue the “Day Of Race” email to all shareholders. This covers the race, our opposition and chances, the suitability of distance and ground, the jockey booking, our riding tactics, where those not attending can watch the race. It also covers parking, badge collection and meeting arrangements for those that are going to Goodwood.
Saturday 4th May
A call to Neil before I leave confirms that all is ok, and we run through riding plans again. Neil
cannot attend, so asks that I act as “Assistant Trainer” (unpaid!) and collect the saddle from Shane and take it over to Billy. Billy is Shane’s travelling head lad who will tack-up and lead-up The Way You Dance.
I arrive at the course around midday, and record a Facebook Live video for the shareholders who cannot attend. Just after 1pm, I go to the Weighing Room where I meet Shane. We briefly go through riding plans and he weighs out and gives me the saddle and tack. I head over to the saddling boxes where I meet Billy, and hold The Way You Dance while Billy saddles him up.
The Way You Dance is very much on edge and sweating a little, which is not a positive but having calmed him a bit in the saddling box, he seems much happier and more relaxed when he gets outside to the paddock. The rest of the shareholders assemble in the paddock and I go to meet them. I take a few photos and another Facebook Live video and then Shane arrives, so I introduce him to the shareholders and we chat about the upcoming race.
It is soon time to head to the track and we make our way to the front of the stands to watch the race. The early part of the race goes well, and The Way You Dance is in exactly the right position and travelling well half a mile out as he hits the downhill stretch. At this point however, his head comes up and he is clearly not happy and drops back. He is quickly passed by other runners, and Shane eases him down as it is clear that he has no chance of getting back involved.
With little time to be disappointed, I race down to the horse walk to meet Billy and Shane, and to walk back to the unsaddling area where we meet the other shareholders. Shane confirms that The Way You Dance had been uncomfortable on the track, and had hated the downhill run and he recommends that we look for a flatter track next time. I help Billy to wash down the horse and we head back to the owners and trainers’ bar to reflect on what we have seen.
I always like to leave it an hour or so before doing another Facebook live video for those not attending, as this gives me time to reflect on the race, watch a replay and provide a more balanced view. That evening I send round a full email to all shareholders outlining how the race developed, and the feedback I had received from Shane. We will need to see how The Way You Dance comes out of the race, and then I will start planning what we do with him next.
I hope you enjoyed this insight. If you would like to watch the Facebook Live videos from the day at Goodwood, then you can watch these at: https://www.facebook.com/bgracingsyndicates/videos/
If you “Like” the page then you will be able to watch future videos when we have runners. If you want to find out more about racehorse ownership or the BG Racing horses, then head over to my website www.bgracingsyndicates.co.uk. On the homepage, there is a link to download my free racehorse ownership guide, or you can sign up for monthly newsletters. If you have any specific questions, I would also be happy to respond to them, just drop me a note via the website contact page.