TRUST. One word that sums up the vital ingredient that everyone involved in a syndicate needs. Hubie de Burgh, who has enjoyed almost unparalleled success with a number of ‘Pension Fund’ syndicates, stresses the importance of this quality.
With trust comes loyalty, and Hubie’s team of horses for the various syndicates are, and have always been, trained by Fozzy Stack, based with the young trainer and his father Tommy at Thomastown Castle in Co Tipperary. Hubie listed three traits that make Fozzy the ideal man for the key role of guiding the careers of the Pension Fund runners.
“Fozzy is a real horseman; he is very accurate in his assessment of horses at an early age, and he is an agreeable seller,” de Burgh says. The latter is important for these syndicates, as they are traders as well as racehorse owners. The numbers involved in each of the syndicates to date has been between four and six, but the investment required to buy horses is about €50,000 per person, and substantial offers for winners are most often accepted.
Their record to date has been remarkable. With just 24 horses of racing age, the syndicates have seen exactly half of them win, and another five have been placed. Only one runner to date has failed to register on the scoreboard, and an outstanding three of the 12 winners have been successful at group level.
Alexios Komnenos, a son of one of de Burgh’s favourite sires Choisir, was beaten a neck by Churchill in the Group 3 Tyros Stakes at Leopardstown as a two-year-old, and the following season won at that level and at the same venue when capturing the Desmond Stakes. He was purchased as a yearling by De Burgh Equine for a mere €28,000.
Bought for only 24,000gns as a yearling was Onenightidreamed, a son of Footstepsinthesand, and his five victories to date have seen him amass more than €190,000 in earnings. These successes include the Lincolnshire at the Curragh and a pair of Group 3 races, the Amethyst Stakes at Leopardstown and the Gladness Stakes at the Curragh.
The Amethyst Stakes has been a good race for the Pension Fund investors as Zihba, another son of Choisir, won the 2018 running of this Group 3 contest, prompting his sale afterwards to Al Shaqab Racing in order to mount a classic challenge. He won back all of his sale price of €62,000 before rewarding connections with his lucrative sale.
Hubie de Burgh runs his bloodstock agency with Will Johnson and they have a global network of clients, an important asset for investors in the Pension Fund syndicates. This ability to seek buyers for successful runners has resulted in winners being sold to race on at home, in Britain, Hong Kong, Australia, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.
An international spread of owners too has been a factor in the make-up of some of the syndicates, with Irish, American, Lithuanian, Bahraini and Australian participants taking stakes at different times.
Keeping investors up to date with what is happening is a vital part of the service offered by de Burgh and his team. “I am very strong on the need for regular communications. Participants get a report every two weeks, while every month my daughter Laragh goes to Tipperary to video the horses.
“I think it is also important that all the members of the syndicate get on and that they all understand the workings of the partnership. We usually have four or more horses on the go, and actually have six in training at the minute, half of them two-year-olds. We only buy yearlings by proven stallions, one of the syndicate rules, and we are hopeful for a number of the current group of horses,” de Burgh explained.
The agent, who backs his judgement too with a financial involvement in the syndicates if necessary, believes that the opportunity to expand the numbers of horses, and therefore investors, in the near future is very real.
“With a proven track record of success, and all achieved with horses costing on average €50,000, I believe we have a really attractive offering. Having a good syndicate management structure, including Will [Johnson] who plays a major role in choosing the yearlings, and having such an able young trainer in Fozzy handling our horses, I think the next big race winner is not too far away,” he concludes.