I normally write this blog on horse racing syndicates and ownership about a month before they get posted, but with everything changing so fast, the guys have suggested that I submit it closer to publication and so here I am writing this on the 16th April. The way things are changing right now, it will still probably be out of date by publication, but we will give it a try!
First up, I hope you are well and that you and your families have not been too badly affected in health or wealth terms by the current situation. There is more to life than racing and betting, and I have been trying to touch base with as many of my shareholders as I can, to make sure that they are OK and well supported.
Some people are busier than ever at the current time, especially those involved in the care sector, but many people find themselves with more time than expected on their hands and, if you are one of those, then I hope that you have been using the time wisely! The development that the guys have done within the Race Adviser software is really excellent, and I hope that some of you are having some success honing systems and strategies using the Aldermist LikeReal races, and that you can take advantage of these in the future once the real stuff kicks off again.
Personally, I have switched a lot of my focus from my betting to BG Racing, as there are a lot of things that I have been meaning to get around. For reasons I will explain below, I wanted to get these done, in the hope that they help me to survive what could prove to be a very expensive situation for me personally!
The BG Horse Racing Syndicate Horses
As you may be aware from previous posts, we targeted the Conditional Jockeys Veteran Chase Final at Newbury on 21st March with Fr Humphrey and he was entered and ready to run. He probably would have been close to favourite for what was a very valuable race, but racing was suspended in the middle of the week prior to our Saturday race. Obviously, the decision to suspend racing was the right one, and one I completely support, but it was still really disappointing that six months of planning came to nothing. We did get another run from Mount Oliver in March, and we expected that he would win or go close at Plumpton. He loves soft ground, so it was really disappointing when it turned out the ground was actually very sticky and holding – he did not enjoy it at all and was pulled-up.
The was some temporary good news when our Anjaal flat filly, Silver Imperial, did a “barrier trial” at Lingfield. These are staged “races” where each horse does a practice stalls start, and then a six-furlong gallop from stalls with several other runners. Silver Imperial is going to be a miler, so this was way too short for her, but she jumped well both times, and did admirably in the gallop, considering the sharper rivals she was taking on. Michael Attwater and Rhys Clutterbuck who rode, were absolutely delighted with her, and we were really looking forward to giving her a debut at the end of March… but the suspension of racing took that away as well!
Our other two horses, My Brother (returning from injury) and Dynamic Kate (national hunt filly making debut) both would have run in April and those plans were also thwarted!
Our Horse Racing Syndicate Trainers
Michael Attwater up on Epsom Downs, has largely carried on “business as usual”. Most of his horses are flat racers, and whilst he gave a few a break to freshen them up, he wants many of them to be ready to go when racing restarts. With the benefit of a small team who can keep their distance from each other, his training regime has not had to change much.
Neil Mulholland down in Bath, has had a different experience. He has a few horses that can run on the flat, but most are jumpers and it made sense to give them all a break, including the horses that can run in summer jump fixtures.
The good news is that I am getting plenty done since there is no racing, no stable visits, no daily runners from our yards and nothing to bet on! I have had a bit more time to get stuck into some tasks that I have been trying to get done for a while. The lack of opportunity to sell shares is a big concern though. Most horses cost £15,000 – £20,000 per year to train and race, and if 50% of the shares are unsold, then that is £7,500 – £10,000 of cost that I need to meet. I make my money by charging a small admin fee, but it is not enough to cover significant unsold shareholding, and buying a share in a horse did get a lot less attractive in the last month!
I have been forced to reduce my admin fees to stimulate some share sales, and I have needed to really ramp-up my sales and marketing effort, otherwise this could be very expensive, as I have a lot of unsold shares. Obviously however, owning a share of a racehorse is definitely a leisure spend, and a lot of people simply do not have the spare money for that at the moment, which is perfectly understandable.
It is good to see that racing has made plans for resumption whenever it is deemed safe to do so, and also that they are working closely with the government on that decision. The Resumption of Racing group floated a suggestion of week-long race meetings at Lingfield and Newcastle with all staff “quarantined” for the week in the racecourse hotel. How the big owners will feel about entrusting an expensive horse to staff that are not their own remains to be seen, but it is good that such initiatives are at least being considered, as it would probably mean that an earlier start could be considered than if there was a lot more contact needed between individuals.
It has already been announced that there is definitely not going to be any jumps racing before July, and flat racing is suspended at least until there is some more progress on getting the spread of the virus more under control. We have to just wait and see.
In the case of our horses, My Brother and Fr Humphrey will be brought back in so that they can race in the summer if the jumps restarts, and Silver Imperial is ready to run whenever flat racing gets underway. Dynamic Kate is going to have a summer break, and we will get her back ready to race early in the new season.
I will keep you posted on progress through these blog posts and, if you want a more regular update, then there is a news update on my website www.bgracingsyndicates.co.uk every week, and I also post on Facebook and Twitter. If you have any specific questions about racehorse ownership, I would also be happy to respond to them, just drop me a note via my website contact page.