I hope that last month’s post made you curious enough to want to find out more about the racehorse ownership experience and this week I would like to take you behind the scenes on race day.
All owners with runners are allocated a certain number of owner and trainer (O&T) badges by the racecourse which the owner can allocate to friends and family. In the case of syndicate ownership and racing clubs, the syndicator or club manager will obtain as many badges as possible for distribution to shareholders or club members.
Going racing as an owner is a real buzz and an O&T badge is just like an “all access pass” for the racecourse and I always encourage my shareholders to take full advantage!
The best-known benefit of holding such a badge is the owners and trainers bar! In recent years, however, racecourses have really upped their game, competing to try to attract owners to run horses at their venue. Whilst every course provides an owners and trainers bar, many of these have been modernised and enlarged and several courses provide more than one such facility. Increasingly there are also owners and trainers’ restaurant facilities. Courses have always offered complimentary coffee and biscuits for owners, but it is now the norm, to provide all O&T badge holders with a complimentary meal and in some cases, this is a restaurant quality dining experience at no cost. Free food – what is not to like!
If you can get there early enough, then it is almost always possible for O&T badge holders to walk the course before racing to assess the conditions and this is an opportunity that I like to take when possible. It provides a first-hand perspective on the underfoot conditions and a different view of the fences and the undulations of the track, which I find can really help with race reading.
The O&T badge comes into its own when race time approaches however. It provides access to the pre-parade ring where you can watch your horse being saddled and prepared to run and then move onto the paddock where you can look out from the inside, rather than in from the outside! Owners are joined by their trainer or trainer’s representative and their jockey to discuss the tactics that the jockey intends to deploy. Ownership has meant that I have met and chatted to many of the leading trainers and jockeys such as AP McCoy, Richard Johnson, Barry Geraghty, Sam Twiston-Davies, Silvestre De Sousa, Noel Fehily, Tom Scudamore and Adam Kirby to name just a few and there are not many other sports I can think of where I would have had the chance to meet so many of the stars of the game!
Most courses provide an O&T viewing area, but the O&T badge is “all access” remember, so you choose where you view from. I watched the 2013 Stayers Hurdle stood on the Cheltenham turf close to the final hurdle and that really is a “money can’t buy” ticket!
After the race, O&T badge holders are welcome to meet their horse in the unsaddling area (which will be the winners enclosure if your horse has made the places), where the jockey provides the owners with a full briefing on how the race played out, how their horse handled the conditions and what different conditions or tactics might suit in the future.
Winning connections take part in the presentations and they (and sometimes also the connections of the placed horses) are invited by the racecourse to a winners’ room to watch a re-run of the race and partake in a glass of bubbly!
I hope this gives an insight into what a great experience it is to go racing as an owner. Next month, we’ll go behind the scenes at the stables to see how owners can interact with their horse, trainer and stable staff between races. In future posts, I will explain the differences between sole ownership, syndicates and racing clubs and why I think that shared ownership options are so exciting and lift the lid on whether “inside information” is all it is perceived to be!
Look out for the next post and if you cannot wait, then why not download my free e-book which provides more information on all aspects of ownership. It does require you to enter an email address (which I only use to send a monthly newsletter and which you are welcome to opt out of at any time) and can be downloaded here: