How did you get into racehorse ownership?
I was introduced two years ago to racing by David Keoghan a good friend and neighbour of mine. We went to the Orby Sale in Goffs where I met Fozzy Stack and a few others. I was interested in a horse Fozzy and David recommended. However, with all the excitement and a long lunch we bought two that day. It was a fantastic feeling.
What was your best day at the races and why?
It’s difficult to answer as we are so new to the industry and every time we go racing it’s normally to a venue we haven’t previously visited so each day is new and exciting.
Leopardstown has the edge for me at the moment over the others though. Fozzy had our first flat win on turf with Victorious Secret and about one hour later Duke Cass won in Sligo for Karl Thornton over hurdles (August 4th). Ask me this question again in five years. I thought I would burst with the excitement.
What is the biggest drawback about being a racehorse owner?
Just before and during each race I would be very concerned for the jockey. This is particularly true when the weather is bad. Of course waiting for your horse to run their first race could be considered a drawback. It takes time to get it to race fitness. Injuries are always a concern but not as common as people think. That’s why it would be nice to have new ones coming on every year. You would always have one running in that case.
In your experience, which racecourse in Ireland treats owners the best and why?
I would emphasise we haven’t been to too many racecourses yet so my answer is based on very limited experience. Thus far I would vote for Leopardstown. The facilities are superb in the owners/trainers lounge and J.P. meets and greets us and makes us feel so comfortable and welcome. He makes the difference. Dundalk on a winter’s night is a great option for a night out when there is little else to do and it’s easily accessible from Dublin. Other racecourses offer a lovely touch by sending a photograph later of the winner taken by Healy Racing.
Flat or jump racing, which do you prefer and why?
I actually love both for different reasons. Flat for speed and excitement, jumps for sheer athleticism. I am extremely anxious before a race and I would worry a little more about the jumps. Everybody likes to watch Usain Bolt in the Olympics this week, which is similar to flat racing. The excitement in owning a racehorse would be analogous to the excitement in being related to Usain or to the O’Donovans from Skib for that matter.
What qualities do you look for in a trainer?
The same qualities as in most of my friends - straight talker and a very hard worker. Both Fozzy and Karl are super trainers and most certainly have those qualities in addition to a great sense of humour. They are available for a chat any time. The jockeys should also get a mention. Wayne (Lordan), Killian (Leonard) and Donagh (Meyler) have done us very proud indeed this year.
What improvements would you like to see racecourses in Ireland do for owners?
I think access to racecourses even if you don’t have a runner on the day. This is a learning process for us and we are not at all familiar with traditions etc so we would go racing more, particularly when the weather is inclement, if we had access to lounges even without a runner on the day.
How do you feel owners are treated when not having a winner?
Ah you feel very special on the day with a runner. It’s funny really as it’s the only sport where you get all the accolades on the day having contributed very little to the effort in getting the horse to that level of competency. I wouldn’t change it one bit.
What significance do your colours hold?
Extremely signifcant. Red star on the helmet represents the P.R.C., the People’s Republic of Cork. Red and white, Cork, Munster and Liverpool. I chose these also to irk some members of my family who are through and through Leinster rugby supporters.
When buying a horse, what do you look for?
Simple - Fozzy’s advice. Genetics are very important. If one was to look at a horse and make a decision on that alone we would have never bought Victorious Secret because of her sire Holy Roman Emperor; not alone did he get one slap of the ugly stick but I think he got two slaps. But she is a fabulous horse with great abilities and attitude.
What horses do you currently have in training?
With Fozzy, Victorious Secret, Oromo, Son Of Rest and one yet to be named. Three of these are in various types of partnerships. With Karl Thornton, Duke Cass in partnership with David Keoghan and Thomas Gibney (my local publican).
What’s next on the agenda for your horses?
With Fozzy, winning, winning and more wining. Duke Cass, hopefully, will be jumping over the winter. That’s a very new experience for me which I am really looking forward to.
Have you any horses to look forward to? (i.e. young/unbroken horses)
Hopefully, the two mentioned above that haven’t raced yet, andwho are with Fozzy. You never know what we might find in the sales later this year.
What would help to make Irish racing more competitive for the smaller owner/trainer?
A win and places would cover most of the costs for one year. Maybe for some, a stipend to help cover the costs if they don’t have any winners in a year. To acknowledge participation etc.
What advice would you give to someone thinking of becoming a racehorse owner?
Get involved. I didn’t even know how many furlongs were in a mile two years ago. I have found all the people in the industry extraordinary welcoming and helpful. Speak to a trainer. Do the maths with him/her. Form a syndicate in work, your local pub or club. It’s very manageable financially once you have a tidy group of people in a syndicate. The days out are fantastic and are all inclusive for your family and friends of all ages. In a syndicate it shouldn’t really cost any more than a golf club sub for the year. Then if you have a place or a win it works out at a lot less. Have fun. Life is short.
Brian Parker was in conversation with Olivia Hamilton. Call 01 4051149 if you would like to feature in The Owner.
The Association of Irish Racehorse Owners (AIRO) have secured agreement with the Association of Irish Racecourses for free admission to 107 race meetings in 2016 for owners who currently have a horse in training.
Details of the meetings are posted on www.irishracehorseowners.com and will also be listed in the new AIRO magazine.which will be sent to all members.
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