The sport of kings, the thrill of the wager and the smell of the turf. Many of us enjoy a day at the races, getting dressed up, having a drink in the stands and having a flutter on the second favourite.
Rugby star Mike Tindall was branded an "idiot" by his wife Zara Phillips when he splashed out £12,000 on a racehorse. But Mr Tindall is now looking far from stupid as his impulse purchase won theWelsh National. Monbeg Dude, which Mr Tindall owns with four others, is now said to be worth more than £200,000. So who's laughing now?
Owning a racehorse is not just for those who move in elevated social circles. There are around 8,215 racehorse owners in the UK, ranging from gentry to brickies united in their love of the sport. But this is not an investment to just splash money on. You are very unlikely to make a fortune and could end up losing a huge amount of money.
The Racehorse Owners Association says that for every £100 of annual outlay (which does not include the purchase outlay), a racehorse owner is likely to see a return of just £21.
Racehorse owning is not a regulated investment: if you lose money, there's no safety net. But if you want to combine fun with the remote possibility of making money, there are several ways to be a racehorse owner.
It comes down to how much you want to invest or should that be risk, you can buy a whole horse or a share. Owning outright can be a huge expense, with a racehorse costing from a few thousand to millions. Generally National Hunt horses are cheaper than flat racers. The Racehorse Owners Association says it costs around £20,000 to train a racehorse for a year. And there will also be race entry fees, veterinary costs and insurance.
While sole ownership might be only for the richest, syndicates (or group partnerships) are away to get into horse-racing for less and spreading the risk.
With these you get the fun bits of ownership – you can visit the training stables, watch your horse being exercised and discuss its future with your trainer as well as go into the parade ring when the horse races – all without the six-figure outlay. The first racehorse syndicates were set up by Highclere Thoroughbred Racing 20 years ago and today, it's the largest manager of syndicates in Europe, with celebrity owners including Sir Alex Ferguson and Elizabeth Hurley.
Owning A Horse
One of the cheapest ways to get in on the act of owning a horse is a racing club. The largest racing club in the UK is "Elite", which has over 10,000 members who pay £185 for a fixed 12-month contract. Members of the club are not owners of any part of a racehorse. Elite currently has 18 horses in training and 10 brood mares. Prize money is split among members but the club keeps any profits from the sale of the horses. Members pay their own costs of going to the races as well.