The state of the economy, the rising cost of food, fuel and just about all the basic necessities, can leave one a little depressed at the prospects (or lack of them) in trying to have any fun with what’s left – particularly if your brand of fun is the sport of kings.
Fortunately, racing folk are nothing if not resourceful, which has led to the advent of fractional ownership. The 230 strong Royal Ascot Racing Club with its 2005 Epsom Derby winner Motivator is probably the ultimate poster child for the initiative, but whether you end up with a Derby winner or not, with its low-cost, team effort appeal, fractional ownership is becoming an increasingly popular way to own a racehorse. After all, a fraction of the ownership, still comes with 100% of the fun.
Normandy Stud has teamed up with Snaith Racing to offer a particularly attractive package of 6 horses, to be raced in partnership with both themselves and the Snaiths. We got Oscar Foulkes to tell us more.
Why do it?
“Almost everyone in the industry recognises that fractional ownership is something one has to do. Owning a horse is expensive, but owning a 1% or 5% share makes it a bit more manageable. It’s not unusual elsewhere in the world – in Australia, you can have a trainer with 40 horses in his yard with a database of 400 owners.”
“Locally, it’s something the likes of Justin Vermaak, Mathew de Kock and Grant Knowles are already doing quite successfully and we’re not doing anything dramatically different, but we think the more people out there doing it the better. Imagine if every horse on the racecourse had not just a couple of owners, but a couple of dozen, and imagine if many of them came racing when their horses were running. There are many ways of getting feet onto the racecourse…!”
However, the birth of Normandy Racing really came about thanks to a filly named Margrethe.
Both Veronica and Oscar have had a lot of fun – as well as luck – getting ‘stuck’ with horses. “We’ve been pretty lucky,” acknowledges Oscar. “My mother and I have 9 horses in partnership in training and of those 9, every single one has won. Sergeant Hardy is obviously the flag bearer, but we’ve got some very promising 3yo’s as well. Interestingly, it wasn’t as though we cherry-picked the best from the farm, these are all horses the market didn’t want, where we thought ‘let’s give it go’. And it seems they’ve hit pay dirt again with a filly named Margrethe.
Oscar continues, “Margrethe is a Philanthropist filly my mother bred with a partner. She was bought back for R40k and I decided to trial the fractional ownership idea.” Naming their new venture Normandy Racing, they registered with the NHA and have taken out a set of fuchsia silks with a white sash, white sleeves and a striped cap. Oscar explains, “The pink with white sash, of course, is mandated by my mother’s pink and white; from my late brother’s colours (as carried by Jo’s Bond and Tahini), we got the white sleeves and striped cap; and the fuchsia comes from my colours.”
The filly had two starts as a juvenile, running second on debut and earning another cheque second time out. She started her 3yo campaign with an impressive 4.5 length win at Durbanville on 1 August and followed up with a very narrow second to Durty Nelly at the end of the month. All being well, she will be tried in some of the summer features. “Richard Fourie certainly seems to think she has that kind of ability,” he adds hopefully.
With their 2016 crop just having turned two and their Ready To Run consignment filled, Normandy was left with two fillies and four colts. They decided to expand their fractional ownership venture by packaging them into a combined offering.
“With exception of one filly, these horses have all been to a sale. They were not big money candidates, but didn’t find favour with the market. As we didn’t expect better results by sending them to the Ready To Run and thought we’d like to be involved with racing them, we decided to see what we could put together. It’s quite a big jump to six, but they’re all horses we like and believe have decent prospects. One of the benefits of having this many horses, is that when they get to their three-year-old season, one could have a runner almost every week!”
They are retaining 40% and are offering the remaining shares in the four colts. “A minimum share of 1% will be roughly R700 per month (although I’d recommend that people budget around R1,000), “with an upfront purchase cost of R2,667,” advises Oscar. “I’d prefer for people to take 5 or 10% at a time, but if 1% is what it takes, we’ll go down the road and see where it takes us. We’ve included the racing careers of two fillies at no cost, so that effectively means that our partners will get the benefit of six horses racing for them.”
Putting their money where their mouth is
All six horses will be trained by Justin Snaith, so prospective partners will have the benefit of joining a top class yard where the horses will be given every chance.
“There are several other trainers with whom we have had wonderful successes, but given the many uncertainties in starting something new, we thought it prudent to work with the Snaiths. “We have a very long history with Snaith Racing,” continues Oscar. “My grandmother was one of the first people to support Chris back in the 70’s with a filly called Moon Orbit. There have been de Wet / Foulkes horses with the Snaiths almost continuously since then, so there’s a long history and we understand each other, which is important as they are partners in this as well. Hopefully, in time, we could expand this to other racing centres.”
Racing is not a gentle mistress and we all know (although we pretend otherwise) that the odds of success are low. Which of course makes it all the more seductive. When asked what they are hoping to offer via the Normandy Racing experience, Oscar answers with refreshing candor.
“Obviously when you’ve got a good horse, the experience is fantastic, but we can’t promise that people are going to make a profit – it’s not an investment, it’s entertainment.”
“Realistically one can’t expect all the horses to make it and those that don’t will be retired early, but our money’s involved, the Snaiths’ money’s involved, so whoever’s coming along for the ride knows we’re all invested – it’s not a hospital pass. We’re in for at least 40% and are committing to the next 2 years with these horses.”
Oscar explains that all six horses are still on the farm and likely to go into training in October, although the final decision will be up to Justin. “Of the line-up, there are probably 2 or 3 that would definitely stay 2000m and which we wouldn’t expect to be 2yo’s, so we’re not in a dreadful rush to get them out there. Some will run as 2yo’s, but we can’t guarantee that at this stage.”
Although horses don’t read pedigree pages or pay much attention to stats, it is worth noting that Normandy Stud has a long history of outperforming the averages when it comes to producing Grade One winners. However, Oscar’s focus remains firm, “Hopefully we’ll beat the averages, but the main point is to have some excitement and some fun.”