Born ‘n’ bred for the races

2012-01-15 10:00
Mokgadi Seabi
Equestrian sports have become the new golf. They provide the ground where the
well-heeled and the fashionable mingle while placing bets to increase their wealth or simply for the thrill of it.

Between polo and horse-racing events such as the L’Omarin Queen’s plate, the Durban July and the upcoming J&B Met, locals are now spoilt for choice.

A select few of these participants have also realised that they can have the fun lifestyle experience while making money by owning a racehorse.

Personalities such as film producer Anant Singh, South Africa’s richest family the Oppenheimers, business mogul Patrick Maponya, TV producer Carol Bouwer and Erfsondes star Emmanuel Castis all own or have shares in various racehorses.

Granted, most of them also have buckets of money to fund this venture and that means they can treat it as a hobby.

As Penny Broodryk, a marketing executive at the Racing Association, explains: “Buying a horse may offer rewards but it’s important to acknowledge that it is nevertheless a speculation. Before you get involved you need to accept that horses are not machines and there is no guarantee to your investment.

“The risks are high but the rewards, both financial and emotional, can be substantial.”

The biggest drawback about owning a horse for most people is the cost attached to it – over and above the purchase price of the animal.

However, you don’t have to go at it alone. There are various types of ownership besides the sole one. There are also partnerships where you share the costs and benefits; a syndicate which consists of between five and 20 people can invest in a number of horses to increase the chances of winning. Companies and close corporations can also be horse-owners.

There are companies that offer aspirant owners the equipment and advice necessary to own a racehorse because, frankly, the administration alone is enough to put anyone off.

Avid equestrians Sandy Wilson and Catherine Hartley recently started Imagine Racing to promote and manage racehorse ownership to groups of people on a shared-ownership basis.

“We wanted to make it easy for people to own a horse without thinking about all the added stress of your horse’s upkeep,” says Hartley.

Their company works with a select group of trainers, breeders and bloodstock advisers, from when they buy the horse to training and race-day hospitality arrangements.

She says: “This is more about the lifestyle experience and fun aspect of it. People should not come into this expecting to make a fortune, but to have loads of fun with their family and friends.”

The company normally limits the number of owners per horse to 12, depending on the people and the selected horse, but the contract can be tailor-made to suit the individuals.

For instance, if a horse costs R100?000, the amount is split 12 ways where you end up paying approximately R8?400.
“People can expect to pay around R2?500 to R4?000 monthly costs over and above the purchase price of the horse,” adds Hartley.

According to Hartley and Broodryk, one needs to be patient when it comes to the rewards.

“There are horses that were on sale for R75?000 and ended up with career earnings of more than R12?million. That’s just plain luck and doesn’t happen often. Some can cost a lot of money and end up being a financial drain,” says Broodryk.

And, according to Hartley, even if you buy a thoroughbred or one with good breeding, it’s still not guaranteed to win.
“All I can tell you is, owning a horse can prove to be one of the best experiences you will ever have. Especially when you get to cheer on your own horse.”

If you are interested in investing in this expensive hobby, visit www.racingassociation.co.za or www.imagineracing.co.za

The J&B Met will be held at Kenilworth Racecourse on January 2.