Thursday 15 May 2014

The Crowning of King Richard II – Reflections on Newmarket and also Nottingham

Ever since student days at Cambridge, I’ve enjoyed going up to the Rowley Mile to watch the 2,000 Guineas. Back in the early 1970s I was slumming it in the Silver Ring, followed by a few pints of Greene King Abbot Ale and the hottest curry in the Indian restaurant just down from Fitzwilliam College. Indeed in one year I can remember a friend ordering a fuming vindaloo and then promptly fainting into it. We carried on regardless. Now, I’m staying in the excellent Tuddenham Mill, swanning around in the Members and drinking fine claret. Still like a few pints of Abbot Ale though.

Only those with excellent memories will recall Mon Fils, at 50/1, beating Noble Decree by a head in 1973, trained by a much younger and slimmer Richard Hannon. I’ll never forget it because most of my student money that year had gone on Noble Decree, at odds from 33/1 down. Going into the dip he was several lengths ahead, but was pipped on the line. Many years later I mentioned this to Richard, and his gruff comment was “I needed the money more than you did, son”. True. So I was delighted this year when Richard II managed to win the Guineas with Night Of Thunder, in his first attempt at a Classic, again at generous odds of 40/1. And yet again, my selection was 2nd, after a very unsatisfactory race in which the relatively small field split into two groups. Lots of bad luck stories after the race. You just wonder why Newmarket doesn’t doll off a narrower portion of track so that such a split wouldn’t occur. Is that too obvious?

It was also encouraging that the winner had been bought for just 32,000 guineas, which with hindsight is an absolute steal for a son of Dubawi (out of a mare by Colmore’s wonder sire Galileo), who has already had 15 Group 1 winners and this was the second 2,000 Guineas winner for him after Makfi. The only bad thing about the day was the punch-up that developed between two rival gangs after the last race. Hopefully that is not the start of a trend. Then, a week later on the way up to the Dales for a walking holiday and a visit to Karl Burke’s yard at Middleham, Aran Sky ran a cracker at Nottingham for us, only beaten half a length by a useful-looking horse under an excellent ride by Graham Lee. We pulled 6 lengths clear of the field and it only looks a matter of time before our horse wins. As someone who can be pretty critical of racecourses, it is a pleasure to be able to say that Nottingham really has improved its facilities for owners, and the new lounge is top-class. Congratulations to them. Looking forward now to the two-year-olds with Karl, Jolievitesse and Lord Ben Stack, making their first appearances later in the summer.

I am always interested to hear your views so please do leave a comment. If you can't see the comment box at the bottom of this post then navigate to the post using the right hand navigation or click here > and scroll to the bottom of the page. Look forward to hearing your views. Thanks very much for sharing them.

Thursday 1 May 2014

The Scandal of Racehorse Administration – Time to Stop the Profiteering

Fortunately for the vast majority of you who read the blog, you don’t have to fill in the endless forms and complete the arcane administration associated with registering horses. As a result, you probably also don’t know how much it costs. Since setting up Owners for Owners, 90% + of our post is now connected with racing admin, and I would say 60% of all telephone calls likewise. We often get multiple letters from Weatherbys, followed by multiple telephone calls – all very time-consuming and, I have to say, needlessly expensive. Until I know more to the contrary, I’m going to assume that many of these costs are actually driving revenue streams and profits for organisations such as Weatherbys. If I was being more generous I would say that all they are doing is recovering the costs ….. but that is because the processes aren’t joined up, and are paper-driven and extremely antiquated. I’ll be doing a few more blogs on this subject. But let’s start with a summary of some of these registration fees, so you can see why I’m ranting a bit about it. All the costs below are inclusive of VAT. They are up-to-date: we’ve just been through them twice with our two French-bred horses, Jolievitesse and Lord Ben Stack. There are extra charges associated with importing them.

Registrations at Outset
As an Owner£89.10
Joint Ownership (this and Racing Partnership below are alternatives)£95.30
Racing Partnership£336.80
Authority to Act (Trainer)£57.60
Colours (the owner has to register colours) £48.60
Shared Colours (the owner then shares them with the partnership) £31.60
Horse Name £144.90
Owner’s Sponsorship (necessary to get a D2, see below)£42.40
D2 VAT Authorisation (necessary for application to HMRC)£60.30
VAT Admin (once registered for VAT by HMRC)£42.40

Annual Re-registrations: have to be renewed every year. Amazingly, no discount even if you register your colours for 20 years!
Authority to Act £57.60
Colours £48.60
Shared Colours £31.60
Joint Ownership £24.60
VAT Admin£42.40

French Bred Horse:
Identity Check£45.80
Lodge Import Certificate£152.00
French Export Certificate£42.36
French Registration of Name (to race the horse back in France)£92.51

That little lot adds up to £1,486.47. Throughout the year, according to the BHA Racing Factbook, there are 28,486 different horses in training (2011 figures). While recognising that not all of these may apply every year, we’re still talking of somewhere over £30m …. and then of course there are entry fees. Again, I’ll be doing a blog on this subject soon. We ought to be paid appearance money, rather than having to pay to enter. Lots of cages to rattle on this one. Paying the money out is bad enough, but the inevitable hassle must be a big turn-off for many owners, particularly those in co-ownerships and larger partnerships. Time to change it …. radically.

I am always interested to hear your views so please do leave a comment. If you can't see the comment box at the bottom of this post then navigate to the post using the right hand navigation or click here > and scroll to the bottom of the page. Look forward to hearing your views. Thanks very much for sharing them.