Horseracing is shrouded in mystery, intrigue and viewed as a cliquey ‘old boys club’. The right guidance, getting involved in racing need not be daunting or confusing but rather great excitement and a lot of fun.
Racing as an industry is highly regulated. Rules and regulations of racing are all managed and administered by the National Horse Racing Authority (NHRA).
Your first step in becoming an owner is deciding that you do want to be part of the racing lifestyle. After that it is simply a case of following the process.
Depending on your chosen level of involvement and what you want out of the ownership experience, you can decide to own a horse individually or in partnership with others. Consider what you are comfortable spending as your initial outlay.
While the ownership experience is exciting and a thrill, you should always go into it knowing that it is a lifestyle experience rather than an investment.
Buying a horse
Most racehorses are sold at auctions by the stud farms that breed them. There are sales held annually in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban which start with yearling sales earlier in the year, followed later by the two-year-old sales and then ‘Ready to Run’ sales.
As a first time owner and buyer, you would be well advised to go with a trainer or agent you trust, and have the horse vetted and scoped before making your bid.
You should also bear in mind that a horse bought at a yearling sale is not going to race for at least a year.
Buying a horse through an agent or a trainer who may have horses available for sale is a good option too.
Choosing a trainer
Deciding on a trainer depends on you, where you are based and the level of trust and communication that you may build up with an individual.
It is advisable to start with a trainer in your vicinity so that you are closer to the horses and local racecourses to stay more involved, get to see your horse at the training yard, and attend race meetings as an owner.
South Africa has a depth of very good trainers, many of who compete at the highest level. The size and strength of a racing yard may also influence your choice.
Once you have bought into your horse and decided on your trainer, you need to register as the owner or one of the shareholders and you also need to sign an Authority to Act.
Basic registrations with the NHRA for the 2014–2015 season are as follows:
Colour Application – R3,055
Partnership colours – R4,000
Syndicate or company colours – R7,440
Registration of horse in ownership – R690
Authority to Act – R690
Your set of colours – around R1,000 (once-off). These are your selected jockey silks, syndicate colours or the colours of one of your racing partners.
Choosing your own silks is exciting as you can choose your preferred colours and pattern.
Basic training fees for each horse, in training, are from R6,500 per month.
The basic fee does not include the following incidental costs that may be incurred on a monthly basis:
- Veterinary costs
- Vitamins and supplements
- Farrier service
- Race nominations
- Jockey retainer
These costs are variable and again you would only be charged per the percentage that you own.
That winning feeling
Leading in your first winner is a once-in-a-lifetime experience only surpassed by the next. A day out at the races with friends is a day well spent and when your own horse is running.
Imagine Racing manages racehorses and race ownership for individuals but their forte is putting together groups to share in a horse. This enables you to enjoy the excitement of owning your own horse while sharing the cost and the lifestyle experience with friends.
Even if you have never thought about owning a racehorse, perhaps you should – or at least pencil it into your bucket list.
Text: Catherine Hartley
Photography: Courtesy of Catherine Hartley and Imagine Racing