How did the syndicate get into racehorse ownership?
We are a group of friends, or friends of friends; we met through many different avenues, from sport, school and college over the years and we’ve a common interest - sport.
We often flirted with the idea of buying a racehorse but it wasn’t until last December when a few of us actually sat down to see if we could make a dream a reality. The syndicate picked itself because it was whoever was willing and prepared to commit to getting the journey started.
We next had to find a horse within our limited budget, limited in comparison to the big spenders of the modern racing world that is. We approached our local trainer Paul Power with a view to going to the sales to purchase but he actually had a horse that fitted what we were looking for and more importantly within our budget.
The gelding is a three-year-old by Rajsaman out of a Hurricane Run mare (Hermanville) and was purchased by Paul at the Tattersalls Ireland August store sale.
A lot of the syndicate are new to racing so we placed our trust in Paul who said he would be an ideal fun horse for what we were looking for. Since then, we haven’t looked back and we are ahead of schedule with a win on the board already.
Some might say it was a risk and time consuming to buy such a young horse, only broken in December if we wanted to go racing for the summer. But Paul and his wife Jeannie are well known in the Irish racing world for producing young horses and getting them jumping, mainly for point-to-points.
This confidence and trust have already been vindicated and we’re only seven months into horse racing ownership.
What was your best day at the races?
It would definitely have to be our first and recent win in Tramore on July 3rd. It was very special for many reasons, it’s the local track for the majority of the syndicate and the horse himself, Morepowertoya. He’s trained 10km away by Paul Power, also a syndicate member.
We were hopeful that he’d run well and with a bit of luck be placed. But none of us could have envisaged him powering up the hill to win by a comfortable two lengths like he did. The feeling of pure ecstasy among all of the syndicate members, as we gathered back in the parade ring, is a memory we will cherish and relive for years to come.
What is the biggest drawback about being an owner?
Thankfully as a syndicate we haven’t come across any significant drawbacks to date; we are all really enjoying the journey so far and are excited as to what the future brings.
Which racecourse in Ireland treats owners the best?
We would have to say Tramore, it’s a small track but they cater and look after the small owners just as well as the big owners. Our recent win was made extra special by Owen Byrne, the racecourse manager, and his great team, who all went out of their way to make sure we could enjoy the moment.
Flat or jumps, which do you prefer?
Currently we would have to say jump racing but we aren’t ruling out an appearance on the flat. Our horse Morepowertoya is flat-bred and has a few gears, so we’d never rule out a crack at the flat.
What do you look for in a trainer?
Communication is key, especially with a syndicate of 13 members, technology helps massively to keep everyone in the loop from both the trainer’s and syndicate members’ points of view.
Trust and honesty are crucial also; nobody likes bad news but unfortunately setbacks happen and have to be delivered along with any good news. Thankfully we’ve had more good than bad news to date, so fingers crossed for the future.
What improvements would you like to see racecourses in Ireland do for owners?
From our experience of racecourse hospitality, standards vary greatly across the country and we feel the powers that be could do more to make sure high standards are maintained and are not left up to individual racecourses to regulate themselves.
It seems some tracks make great efforts to make sure the experience for owners is as enjoyable as possible and others don’t.
How do you think the current crisis will impact on racing in general?
The current high levels of inflation are going to make life for syndicates like ourselves very challenging. Constant price increases across the board are going to squeeze the smaller owners and trainers out of horse racing unless HRI intervene with some sort of support/incentives.
What can trainers or HRI do to encourage owners to keep horses in training?
HRI needs to take the lead and support small owners/syndicates and trainers equally. Small trainers are already working off tight budgets to keep horses in their yards and it is therefore unrealistic to ask them to tighten their belts even more in order to help owners.
Horse racing is a massive industry for Ireland and generates huge revenue each year. We feel some sort of initial financial support or discounted rates for owners in their first year from HRI would be a great incentive to getting more syndicates and small owners into horse ownership.
What significance do your colours hold?
Our colours do actually tell a story. Being a syndicate of 13, our colours incorporate one, if not both county colours of each member of the syndicate. The counties are Waterford, Cork, Galway and the design was agreed on by a vote.
How did your syndicate get its name?
Among the syndicate of 13, we have members dotted all over Ireland and also across the world. One member is currently living in Australia so we agreed on Going Global as the name for the syndicate.
Hopefully we might visit him in the near future if we have a runner in the Melbourne Cup.
None of us in the syndicate are experts in buying horses so that is why trust and confidence in your trainer is paramount. Trainers have an eye and expertise in buying horses to fit a requirement or order. It’s even harder now to work off a budget as there is so much competition out there.
What horses do you have in training?
Morepowertoya in training with Waterford-based trainer Paul Power.
What’s next on the agenda for your horses?
We hope to run in the August festival in Tramore and then maybe Listowel in September.
He likes good ground so we’ll see how long the summer ground lasts before we give him a break.
What would help to make Irish racing more competitive for the smaller owner/trainer?
More restricted races for the lower-rated horses and even syndicate only races, that would definitely get more people into syndicates. It’s only when you have a horse and you go looking for races during the summer fixtures, you find there isn’t a lot out there in Ireland.
British racing has a greater variety and I know you might say the prize money isn’t as good over there but you have to remember that not everyone is in horse racing for the prize money. We are in it for the journey, a day out and the buzz if you manage to have any success.
What advice would you give to someone thinking of becoming a racehorse owner?
Racehorse ownership was out of our reach as individuals before we formed a syndicate; since forming the syndicate we have had numerous days out racing with a runner and even a winner. The days racing are great but the journey and process that goes into getting the horse to the track has been equally as enjoyable. The journey and learning along the way make any success on the track that bit more rewarding and satisfying.
Syndicates are easier to form than one might think and HRI is always there to help with any queries. We would advise anyone interested in starting a syndicate to first sit down and create a simple but realistic budget to make sure you have all costs accounted for before deciding on what the syndicate can afford.
Connor Power was in conversation with Olivia Hamilton