How did you get into racehorse ownership?

The Fivers & Tenners Syndicate was formed after a day out at the Galway races. I had bought Walking On Glass as a yearling and didn’t sell him as a two-year-old as was planned.

After a day’s racing in Galway, Mark Dunlea and Mike Murphy asked me a few questions about the horse and in no time they, along with the two lads and a few more like-minded friends from Kildare town, got involved.

What was your best day at the races and why?

I suppose the day Walking On Glass won a handicap hurdle in Sligo for the first reason that nearly all the syndicate was there and were in great form (August 20th, 2019).

The lads from Tipp were still celebrating Tipp’s All Ireland win the day before. We even made it back to the Harp in Kildare for a few pints and were joined by Jodi and Paudie who are good friends of ours.

What is the biggest drawback about being a racehorse owner?

There aren’t many really. The good definitely outweighs the bad. Every time the horses run you want to see them win, but it’s more important that the horse and jockey come home safe.

In your experience, which racecourse in Ireland treats owners the best and why?

We love going to Thurles Racecourse. We are always treated well and have great craic with the Molonys down there. The Christmas meeting is a really special meeting that all racing supporters should experience.

Flat or jump racing, which do you prefer and why?

The syndicate is split on this one with a slight majority leaning for jumps. Having a great little performer in both codes in Walking On Glass keeps everyone happy and gives us great options.

What qualities do you look for in a trainer?

Honesty is trait we look for most in a trainer. He tells us exactly what we have and we always go to the track knowing that Padraig (Roche) has done his best with them.

Walking On Glass is a boxwalker and Padraig trains him from the field and puts a lot into getting him just right. He has a part of his barn cordoned off where Walking On Glass can walk around.

We love to see his yard do well as we know the work they put in all year round.

A few of us watched his horse (Brazil) win in Cheltenham this year and you would swear we owned it we roared it home that much. I know Padraig a long time and enjoy his company away from racing as well.

What improvements would you like to see racecourses in Ireland do for owners?

I think there have been massive improvements since I first got involved. Ticketing is much better for syndicates now.

When Walking On Clouds won at Fairyhouse a couple of weeks ago, we had gone in and had a meal before the race and were back up for a complimentary drink afterwards. It’s things like that make the day even more enjoyable.

How do you think the current crisis will impact on racing in general and on ownership in particular?

It was hard during Covid missing races, especially missing out on the winner at the Galway Festival, but thankfully that is all behind us now. Being part of a syndicate means that expenses are relatively small and shared equally. In our case we are fortunate to have good jobs and hopefully that will hold up. I don’t see any of the syndicate being forced to give up.

How did your syndicate get its name?

To celebrate the formation of the syndicate Mike Murphy offered to buy a round of drinks after a day racing at the Galway Festival.

When he opened his wallet, he was told to sit down as he only had a couple of fivers and tenners in it, hence the name. I don’t think he has offered since!

When buying a horse, what do you look for?

Budget is the biggest thing for us. We are always looking for value. We ask Aidan (Mouse) O’Ryan to have a look at them for us before we finalise anything at the sales.

We were fairly happy when we brought Walking On Clouds home because as soon as Christy Roche saw him he wanted to buy him off us.

What horses do you currently have in training?

Walking On Glass and Walking On Clouds. I also am involved in another syndicate with another group of friends from Kildare, and we own a homebred called Ernie From Nurney.

What’s next on the agenda for your horses?

Despite his size, Walking On Glass is going chasing and is entered in a beginners’ chase at Clonmel this Friday (yesterday). He’s up against it as the top-rated horse is Willie Mullins’ Bacardys! He might be small but he has a big heart and loves jumping. He has been some servant and we are all mad about the horse.

It was great to see Walking On Clouds win at Fairyhouse after coming close a couple of times last year. He’s due to run at Fairyhouse on Friday over our preferred six furlongs, once the ground holds up – he needs good ground.

What would help to make Irish racing more competitive for the smaller owner/trainer?

As small owners we have been lucky to have picked up a certain amount of prize money as the horses have won. I do approve of those races which are confined to horses or trainers who have only won a limited number of races or prize money.

As owners we want to have a day out and for our horses to get to the festivals. The trouble is that if 50 horses are entered for a festival race, the first 30 horses come from the big yards and it can be difficult to get a chance to compete.

That’s the way it is as the top trainers have got there on their own merits and their owners have the best horses.

It makes it all the sweeter if a smaller owner/trainer wins.

What advice would you give to someone thinking of becoming a racehorse owner?

If you’re thinking about it, just do it. Especially when it comes to syndicates. Even though we all only own a small percentage we get as much craic out of it that way. It keeps the costs down and if you’re lucky enough to get a few good runs you get to enjoy it with your friends and family.

It’s a very special feeling seeing them coming for the line with a chance of winning.

Damien Broughall was in conversation with Olivia Hamilton