It was a testing weekend for Cheltenham and the loss of the Countryside Day was sad for them. It is hard to imagine that racing at Cheltenham in early November could possibly be waterlogged when, most years, we are praying for rain at this time of year.
The day is one of the Countryside Alliance’s biggest fundraising events, so to miss out on all the hard-earned money when the countryside and its pursuits are so much under threat was devastating. Thankfully, the racecourse was able to run on both the Saturday and Sunday.
It was a wonderful meeting for the stable of Kerry Lee, whose mare Happy Diva was so unlucky last year but came back to win the feature contest, the BetVictor Gold Cup. And trainer Alan King, whose number one jockey Wayne Hutchinson has now retired, has two able deputies in Tom Bellamy and Tom Cannon, with Tom Bellamy winning the Unibet Greatwood Hurdle on Harambe.
Cheltenham showed the sport in a glowing light once again. Sunday’s racing kicked off with two pony races and I’m sure we will be hearing many of the young riders’ names for years to come — pony racing has been a huge success, producing some great names in the sport.
Becoming an owner
Racing at Cheltenham is the dream all owners have and the course does not let them down.
They do a great job of making their experience unforgettable. Racecourses are becoming more user-friendly and, with marketing initiatives, new ideas are coming to the fore.
This Friday and Saturday, 22-23 November, Ascot is holding an “Ownership Weekend” promotion with emphasis on syndication. It is a fantastic way of becoming an owner and enjoying the delights of our special sport. Kim Bailey Racing is sponsoring one of the races at Ascot on Friday. A first for me, but I really enjoy racing at Ascot and they do a fabulous job of looking after syndicates when we have runners.
I feel that the British Horseracing Authority, the Racehorse Owners Association and some racecourses don’t realise how important syndicates are for the future of the sport. We have to encourage people to come into racehorse ownership. Yes, websites carry banners selling shares in horses, but people would really like to know where their investment is going. I have joined the Racecourse Syndicate Association because I feel strongly that we, as a body, should be regulated and I can prove to many that syndicated ownership works.
Thirteen years ago, I moved to Thorndale Farm with 25 horses, having had a torrid time in Northamptonshire — I was on the proverbial scrap heap. But I’m not a quitter, so I employed Peter Kerr to help manage and encourage syndicates. We started with one, then two and it continued.
Peter and I now run 25 syndicates with a further 10 individually owned horses that have come from this — syndicated ownership is not to be sniffed at. Syndicates should be fun as well as successful. Communication is now so easy, especially using the Racing Manager app.
Remember that racing is all about downsizing at times and, with ridiculously low prize money, it is time that we take hold of the idea and make racing work.
Ref Horse & Hound; 21 November 2019