Friday 15 November 2013

More on the Prize-Money Challenge ….. and the Pleasure of Owning a Horse Such as Shantou Magic

Last Saturday, Anthony Honeyball was kind enough to host the sixth in our series of “Meet the Trainer” mornings at his yard on the Dorset / Somerset borders. Then over 20 owners met up at Wincanton Races to enjoy everything about Badger Ales day from the luxury of a private Owners for Owners box. A magnificent view, great food and an excellent opportunity for owners from various partnerships to meet up and enjoy each others’ company. Racing really is an excellent sport for bringing together people from all walks of life. The shared interest and love of the racehorse guarantees a common bond.

We had no sooner driven back from Wincanton than a number of us headed north for Market Rasen to see Shantou Magic on Sunday, 10th November, and then Houndscourt at Southwell the following day – a Lincolnshire trip that most definitely paid off. Some of us stayed up there and even managed a game of golf at Forest Pines in between the races.

The Timeform review of Shantou Magic’s race says everything: “Followed up his Fontwell success with consummate ease, value for considerably more than the margin of victory; mid-field, travelled smoothly, crept closer from 5th, chased leader approaching next, led 3 out, in command 2 out, forged clear; created a good impression, and is well worth his place in better company.” The dreams have always been alive, but have now rocketed to a different level. One of the owners sent me a smashing email describing himself as “Mr. Excited from Hampshire”. The Timeform rating is 133p – the same as Taquin Du Seuil at this stage last year, who went on to win the Challow by 9 lengths and started at 6/1 for the Neptune at the Cheltenham Festival. My response was, “I think I need to go and lie down!” Charlie Longsdon is going to let the horse have a short holiday now, having had two runs in close succession, and he will reappear after Christmas, possibly in the Challow at Newbury or the Leamington Spa at Warwick, or even a big handicap hurdle, depending on the mark.

In the glorious moments of the race and immediately afterwards, I don’t think any of us were thinking about prize-money. It was just the sheer joy of owning a potential star, and all the dreams and aspirations that flow from that. But clearly, prize-money does matter (and by the way, in the next blog I am going to compare and contrast the way in which Market Rasen treated the owners, as opposed to ARC’s Southwell).

On the bigger stage, the Australian turf authorities have acknowledged this with their recent announcement that they are going to create a £10.5m end-of-season championship meeting – appropriately enough, called “The Championships” – containing eight Group 1s and the world’s richest mile race. It will kick off on 12th and 19th April 2014 in Sydney, and follows on from the Dubai World Cup on 29th March. The goal is to make it “the greatest event for racing in the Southern Hemisphere”. Their 1m 2f race will be worth £2.3m; the 6f, £1.5m; and the Doncaster Mile, £3m. That definitely puts the poor old prize-money at Kempton and Doncaster UK, and our pathetic start to the Flat, in perspective.

While still in Australia, the Melbourne Cup on 5th November had total prize-money of almost £4m. Not bad for a 2m handicap. The winner picked up almost £2.5m, the 2nd, £0.5m, the 3rd, over £0.25m, and even the 6th, 7th and 8th each had over £80,000. These prizes really matter – I’ve already commented on the increasing disparities building up between Breeder’s Cup in the US, the Arc meeting at Longchamp and the Dubai World Cup, and Ascot’s Champions’ Day. Global owners and breeders will increasingly migrate away from the UK to these more lucrative locations – a huge concern for the UK racehorse industry.

Finally, back to the Jumps. On 6th November, there was an ARC meeting at Chepstow and a jumps meeting at Enghien, north of Paris. The total prize-money at Chepstow was £32,552. Three races had win prize-money of a mere £1,949, and a derisory £143 for 4th. By contrast, Enghien had total prize-money of £264,210. One of the more valuable races on the card – a 2m 1f chase for 4yos – had prize-money of £44,713, the winner picked up £21,463 and the 5th, £2,012. For each of six of their seven races, the single race prize-money was more than the total pot at Chepstow. I intend to discuss French jumps racing with all our trainers. Our next National Hunt purchase will be set up as a partnership aiming to go racing in France as well as the UK.

À bientôt, mes amis!


  1. A great start to the season. 2 winners back to back!