Monday, 15 October 2012

Patricians, Partners, Plebs ..... and Marodima

What is the connection between Andrew Mitchell, the Government Chief Whip, and a £2.5m guineas Galileo colt out of the dam of Authorised, purchased at last week’s Tattersalls Book 1? Both illustrate the British obsession with aristocracy, superior breeding and the supposed differences between toffs and plebs. Indeed in racing it sometimes feels as though we are trapped inside the famous sketch involving John Cleese, Ronnie Barker and Ronnie Corbett. “I am upper class, and naturally can afford the best. I own the best mares and stallions and go to the best trainers. Economic crisis – what crisis? I look down on other owners. They are plebs, and little people.” “I am middle class. I aspire to being a bigger owner, and buy the best I can afford. I envy the top owners and hope I find a Saturday horse one day. I go to mid-week race meetings but at least they are on turf. I look down on those who go to Wolverhampton and Southwell.” “I am a syndicate owner. I am lower class. I get what’s left over. I go to the all-weather and the gaff tracks. I know my place.”

The rarefied, platinum end of racing occupies a space that is completely disconnected with economic reality. It is a closed world where the top breeding interests and wealthiest people are increasingly appropriating all the real equine stars. This makes it exceptionally hard to compete. Indeed a friend of mine who had a Cheltenham Festival winner twenty years ago was lucky enough to find another star recently, but was offered a sum that was impossible to refuse, given the current economic climate and paucity of prize money in racing.

This goes right to the heart of what we are trying to do in Owners for Owners. Apart from the very privileged few, the rest of us need to link up with others and “join forces to buy better horses”. Unfortunately some of the largest syndicates are either far too expensive (with 60% + of the cost going into their overheads) or are buying low-quality “fun horses” with little probability of winning big races.

However, it can be done. I am lucky enough to be involved in Jamie Snowden’s nine-year-old warrior, Marodima. Many can remember his former exploits in the Arkle and Champion Chase. Alas, he then went into a decline with many physical problems, but has bounced back in the twilight of his career. From 12th January to 5th October this year, he has run nine times, winning five races and being placed in the other four. His rating has gone up from 112 to 143. We are now considering taking him further afield, possibly Auteuil where there is superb prize money and obstacles that suit his style of jumping. Partnering with ambitious young trainers, enthusiastic co-owners and courageous horses such as Marodima is a real privilege.


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