Racing: Can it survive with so much disparity?

Only last week we saw prices of 3.5 million guineas paid for a yearling, and the Tattersalls Book 1 median at a high of around £168K.  This week the Book 2 looks set to be a good earner for some breeders.  So from these figures it seems racing is in fine fettle.  However for those, like me, who have read Daniel Ross’s excellent study into the disparity between large and small training yards (TRC October 2018), his study has such resonance in other parts of the horse racing community also.

We are told that prize money is growing year on year – yes it is.  We are told that the growth in syndicates is at an all time high – yes it is.  We are told that access to the top stallions is the best it has ever been with bumper covering books in the hundreds for many stallions – yes it is.  However, what these messages do not reveal is the disparity across the industry.  It is something which, albeit the study focuses on trainers, Ross’s findings reflect the trends in the wider industry.

On Twitter recently, a comment was made to the effect that with huge auction prices, it was little wonder that new owners could not be attracted to the sport, and did breeders pay a levy from part of their fat profits?  In reality of course, the Book 1 sale at Newmarket accounts for only 3.5% of all yearlings sold into the market each year.  Of that, many come from overseas (Ireland and France) and so places at the sale become competitive.  This is only right as the best auction should attract the “best” horses.  The result however is not necessarily what racing needs to be a successful sport.

It is fair to say that those paying the extraordinary amounts for horses at auction are the same ones who have large interests in horses anyway and therefore, in line with Ross’s study, it is likely that these new purchases will end up with their usual trainers.  I note no one asked if the £1 million plus horses would be going to Stuart Williams or Jedd O’Keeffe or any number of the vast numbers of statistically excellent trainers in the “lower” echelons.  Instead the names were all those of the trainers we all see winning the Group 1’s every week.  Not for one moment do I blame these owners.  If I pay those kind of rates, then I want the best trainers – and many of those will be in that lofty position because they are retained by owners anyway.  Neither do I resent the success of these trainers – indeed they are rightly heroic figures.  The system however is building a glass ceiling and the resulting “them and us” is a real threat.

However that is the 3.5%  of the bred horses – not the remainder.  A rough estimate would say that of the 12000 or so horses bred each year, around 35-40 % will go to the sales on a good year.  80% of those will sell, although most at less than the cost of production (see the TBA Economic Impact Study 2018).  The remainder will be sold privately or even given away.

So we now have the fact that the most expensive horses go to the richest, most prolific owners, who send them to the top 10-20% of trainers.  On top of this, Ross highlighted that the prize money is so poorly distributed, further fuelling the problem of attraction and survivability for so many.  In 2017 60% of overall prize money went to Class 1 & 2 races.  The BHA figures for 2017 show there were 1172 races in these two classes – there were 9079 in all the others!

That means that 60% of prize money goes to just 11.4% of races in the calendar –   a strikingly similar ratio to the split of prize money to the number of trainers in the top tier according to Ross.  A rough estimate would say that this ratio is also quite similar when we look at the top priced horses and the breeders selling them.  One can argue that the best races should get the best prize money – and indeed that is quite right, but to such a degree?

Let us not forget that in order for a horse to become a Group winner it will have had to likely race in a Class 4 or 5 maiden.  They may even have been through a circuitous route due to a delayed  show of promise.   The lower tier races are the route for horses to get to the top tier and so if we do not have a healthy sport at the lower levels, it is highly likely that we will degrade the breed and the sport irrevocably.  They also bring forward horses which would otherwise go undiscovered were we, for example, to have a two tier, league type structure – an idea mooted in past years and which, thankfully, has been abandoned.  Football, for all its attractive benchmarks, is not the ideal model to use in racing.

Lastly, the BHA 2017 statistics show the average number of runners in a race is 8.2.  If, as we are led to believe, betting is the financial cash-cow of racing, then it is in the interests of racing to promote the vast majority of races (ie. those at Class 3 and below) to ensure this average rises and place-bet  payments can go to the first 4 more often that the first two or three over the line.  To do this it has to equalise the prize pool to invest in the 88.6% of races – and in the owners, trainers and breeders who are struggling against their own odds to fulfil the demand without the rewards.

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Abacus Counts the Cost

Another month of Summer has passed by in a flash – but at least with the increased

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Yearlings are being fed hay in August

rainfall we now have something resembling grass on the paddocks.  As with all livestock owners, the stud industry has been feeding both hard feed and hay to the horses which would usually be enjoying the green stuff at the moment.  This will inevitably increase production costs, at a time when the initial sales figures for 2019 are not looking promising.

The BHA have recently increased the number of races, and therefore the demand for horses, to record levels for 2019 and yet the market for horses seems to demand the cheapest possible price.  We received an offer for a yearling recently for £2000 – on a covering which cost £5000 – let alone the associated costs!  How can that be sustainable

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Fixtures increased & sale prices under pressure – not a good combination

for breeders?  The increase in races, together with the slump in market prices will lead, in my opinion, to one of three issues (or a mixture of all of them) –

  • either the same horses will race in them and increase the risk of injury as a result,
  • or field sizes will be small due to lack of fresh runners,
    • Both of the above due to breeders cutting their production
  • or breeders will breed cheap horses  for the lower level market leading to a reduction in the quality of the pedigree and a potential chasm between the group / listed races (10% of the calendar) and handicaps (the vast majority of races) by way of breed quality and accessibility to non-millionaire owners.

The last point will inevitably lead to lower prize money and an even greater feeling of “them and us”.  It will also reduce the number of good stallions, at currently good prices, as many stallion handlers will find it unprofitable to keep them.

Syndicate buyers and smaller owners must realise that whilst they dream of “bought cheaply and wins a Group 1” horses, the reality is that there is a difference between cheap and unsustainable prices.  It seems that buyers and their trainers are happy to drive prices down from breeders, but then make few allowances in their own training fees.  As the old saying goes “it costs as much to train a bad horse as a good one.”  Look at the horses which win the classics – few, if any of them are cheap buys!

Goodbye Little Mo

As some of you who follow me on Twitter will have seen, we sadly had to say goodbye to our broodmare Littlemoor Lass.  She suffered a training injury which prevented her

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Littlemoor Lass as a yearling – she will be missed.

racing, and was retired to stud by  us as a result.  The daughter of  Derby-winner Motivator, she was a beautiful looking animal who produced two colts and two fillies in her all too short career.   We loved her from the day I bought her as a 9 month old, to the day I held her for the vet.  The pain of loss is a measure, I hope, of the affection we had for her.  Rest easy lass.

 

Racing – Time to be relevant!

Anyone who reads my occasional ramblings (thanks if you do!) will recall that back in January I wrote about the perception that racing is elitist and therefore may be a turn-off to racegoers as well as potential owners. A Yawning Gap? – maybe it’s the elitism not the spectacle!

I have already stated that I do not hold the puritanical view that entertainment and Captureparty-packages should not be part of racing as I believe it will bring more people to the courses.  Certainly it gets bums on seats.  My concern though is not for the racecourse balance sheet, but that those “newbies” are the next generation of owners, breeders and racing fans and that this potential is  being missed – both at the racecourse itself and in the way racing portrays itself.  These events should be sold as a RACE MEETING with after race entertainment, not a concert with 3 hours of something to be endured (sometimes sadly with copious amounts of alcohol) before the music starts!

Back in January I mentioned that the Owner & Breeder magazine had a number of pages dedicated to “Lifestyle”.  It was my view that the magazine was falsely portraying a world of elitism and wealth which was not a true reflection of the vast majority of the racing world.  Whilst I do not expect the editor of that publication to bother with my blogs, I would have hoped that one of the many racing experts who write in the magazine would have thought along the same lines as I do.  Certainly the straw poll taken from the response to my tweet of yesterday shows I am not alone in my opinion.

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Racehorse ownership is accessible – so why make it seem elitist?

The excellent initiatives underway through the TBA and ROA (both contributors to the magazine and providers of the majority of the readership through their members), this month sit alongside articles on a trainer who sees his helicopter as a “necessity”, the story of the multi-billionaire who is trying to expand the Tote betting and NINE PAGES of what is now termed “Racing Life” (they cannot be saved from themselves!) dedicated to cocktails at a 5 star London hotel, hand-made shotguns, original artworks and tailor made country clothing.  How is this “Racing Life”?  It has nothing to do with racing, and is all about the “Loadsa Money” attitude we saw in the recession of the 1980’s, or the “Let them eat cake” view which served the French monarchy so well!  Aspiration is fine, but humiliation…really?

To be clear, I am not spouting some radical socialist ideal or saying that the rich should be stripped of their wealth.  Indeed I go shooting, I own and breed racehorses and I have even enjoyed a tipple in a posh hotel but I do not flaunt this as the reason I am able to enjoy racing, because it isn’t.  It is extremely harmful not just that the Owner & Breeder magazine thinks they should publish such articles, but that no one within racing’s hierarchy has seen the lack of resonance it has with the general public and said something about it.  I have been in racing for many years now and it has no resonance with me – so how can it possibly with a potential new entrant? There are great articles in the magazine as I have said and I urge you to read what is a superb publication full, in the main, with excellent journalism and informative stories, but to read those, you have to leaf through the elitist message to get there – and many people will see the money and equate that with the cost of racehorse ownership and find something with which they have more comfort and affinity.

The BHA have just launched a study into inclusivity across racing.  Well Mr. Rust and team, start by realising that the disposable income required to become an owner needs only be the price of a beer a day, not the cost of a stately home in Belgravia!  Get some perspective, make racing seem possible, make it resonate with the public and with the new generation, speak the language of inclusiveness and not of elitism – and make sure others do too!

As the “powers that be” sit back in their Bentleys as they drive to their London club (for that is the image they portray), and see that average ownership age is now in the mid-50’s and breeders are dwindling due to retirement and / or lack of profits, that recruitment of stable staff is the hardest it has ever been, and that meanwhile the record number of fixtures for 2019 requires increases in owners and horses to cope, perhaps they will realise that good intentions count for nothing if the messaging is packaged wrongly.

 

 

Sizzling Summer

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Masar – Godolphin’s first Derby winner

Last time I wrote we were reaching for the snorkels and wishing for the good weather – and the wish has come very true!  The flat season has also got off to a sizzling start with no clear leader in the classic generation, but instead a wide open, and therefore very interesting outlook at the higher levels of racing.  It is always good to see healthy competition amongst the training elite, and some great results for the “smaller” names too.  Does this mean it’s not a great generation of horses, or are they all so good that there is no clear leader?

Royal Ascot was superb as usual (with Frankel really showing his prowess as a sire), the Derby threw up a potentially great horse for Godolphin in Masar – their first winner in the famous blue silks.

Abacus Horses & news

Meanwhile back at Lower Linbrook Farm all the horses are going well.  The three foals are growing really fast and showing early signs of some athleticism.  The yearlings meanwhile are blossoming and working well in preparation for the sales and racing.

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Cityscape – a sire on fire!

Of note is the superb record of stallion Cityscape.  The Dubai record holder is proving real value and as a result we are hopeful that our colt yearling by him will do well for prospective owners.  He, like all our yearlings, offer great value for the prices we are asking and can be seen at our website.

Our Abacus Bloodstock bred runners continue to impress on the track, with the youngsters performing well for their connections, and the ever reliable Roll on Rory continuing his winning ways with a runaway success at Newmarket last month.  He is entered in the Bunbury Cup at the July Festival so we hope he makes the cut.

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Rory continues to win EVERY year!

We have acquired yet more land in the last month so our expansion continues.  Work on fencing and securing the new paddocks is a little held up with the dry ground, but at least hay making is going well!

Retirement from Racing

As many of you will know, the highly successful Pancake Day returned to us following a superb career – with 8 wins in the UK and Europe for his

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Fangfoss Girls – retired to stud

connections.  He joins a number of retirees we have, including his mother, Fangfoss Girls, and Imperial Bond who was injured as a 3 year old and therefore never got to fulfil his potential.  As a stud, we can offer our mares a retirement in the breeding program where possible, and if not we have space to accommodate the horses on our farm.  We have also sent Elegant Joan (“Treacle”) to the Northern Racing College, where she is a great favourite and is training the jockeys of the future – as she is still only very young she will have a hopefully long and successful career.

Sadly many horses do not make the grade as racers, and even if they do, they all eventually need to retire.  Whilst we, and therefore our horses, are fortunate, many are not.  The growth in syndication means that there is now a widening number of owners, most of whom have neither the facilities, or the ultimate ownership, to enable them to look after retired horses.  There is a market for thoroughbreds elsewhere in equestrian sport, but supply outnumbers demand.

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Treacle now working for the NRC

There are some excellent initiatives in UK racing to find new homes for retirees.  Indeed owners now pay an increased levy for all race entries, which is dedicated to the retraining of racehorses.  The Retraining of Racehorses and other charities work hard to support owners and trainers in finding new careers for what are very often still comparatively young horses at the end of their racing careers.  Therefore I would urge everyone to support these initiatives and make sure we give these horses the very best reward – a safe and enjoyable retirement.

Staff Dedication

Finally, a word for the staff we have here at Abacus Bloodstock.  We are a family run business and therefore our staff are mainly family members.  Sadly, due to this we cannot nominate them for the excellent Stud & Stable Staff Awards due to the rules.  Therefore I wanted to write, as we near the end of the stable staff awareness week, to thank everyone who works for and with us here.  We know we could not do it without your efforts – much of which is done in your own time and through a real professionalism and love of the horses.  Thank You!

Spring? What Spring?

For anyone who follows my Twitter account (@stumat) you will know that my patience with this wet weather is wearing thin!  Not only do we have no turf racing due to the

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Our new 5 bay walker – at least the roof keeps the horses dry

downpours, but the stud farm is, like many others, gradually getting muddier.  Last year we had the horses out on the summer paddocks around now, but as I write we are still stabling all the horses at night and allowing them to get used to “heavy going” during the day on the winter grazing.  At least the haylage man is making a packet!

Looking ahead, we still await our last two foals.  Fangfoss Girls is due to foal a Garswood in the next few days, and Littlemoor Lass has another Albaasil on the way in a week or so.  That will add to the beautiful Heeraat filly foal we had in February.

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Our new Heeraat filly (born in February) – with mum Princess of Rock

We have invested in a lovely little mare by Ifraaj called Vale of Clara.  She ran in Ireland to a mark of 86 and won over sprint distances.  A really pretty mare, she will visit Pearl Secret in a week or so all being well.

Other mating plans are that Princess of Rock has already visited Swiss Spirit and looks to be in foal – and Makindi is preparing to visit new sire Mattmu at Bearstone Stud.  Once again the weather is making the mares’ reproductive cycles very slow to react but good rugs and quality food will help them on their way.

We will rest both Fangfoss Girls and Littlemoor Lass this year to allow them to be covered earlier next year.  Both girls have produced superb foals in the last 4 years and deserve a year off from the kids we think!

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Pancake Day as a foal – He returns to the team that bred him after a successful racing career

At the other end of the career of a racehorse, we are pleased to say that multiple winner and globetrotter Pancake Day has retired to the stud after amassing wins and places for his owners in every year he ran.  He will be retrained for RoR events and is settling in well – telling the yearlings how to win races we hope!  His half sister, Elegant Joan was less adept on the racecourse and has been retired to work with the Northern Racing College, training budding jockeys and enjoying herself immensely.  She was one of the fastest horses over 800 metres, and then seemed to get bored!

We have a bumper crop of horses we have bred about to enter battle for various owners this season.  We wish them and their connections the very best of luck and a safe season.  We will be following them avidly and may see you at the races soon.

Lastly, if you are interested in buying one of our 5 superb yearlings then pop along to our website and see their details on the Horses for Sale page.

Now, where’s the sun-cream?  Helps to be optimistic!

A Yawning Gap? – maybe it’s the elitism not the spectacle!

So horse racing has been identified as a boring sport.  We have all seen the UGov poll published this week and, as expected, many people have had much to say in defence of the sport they love – or hate depending on, of course, personal tastes.most boring sport

I would rather watch paint dry than watch Formula 1 racing.  That said, when I was in Singapore on a rainy day a few years ago with nothing to do, and no freshly painted walls to occupy my time, I watched some Grand Prix or other and remember there were a few crashes, some bad visibility and an excited commentator and, guess what, F1 suddenly became exciting – for 30 minutes until the rain in Singapore stopped and the pool seemed a better option.  And that is the point: all sport is exciting when there are exciting things going on, and it’s tedious to the extreme when there isn’t.

Racing might kick itself and say the poll shows the sport we love to be dull more times

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Crowds at Sydney’s Royal Randwick Racecourse – many of whom own a part of the horses running

than it is exciting, but remember it is still the second largest spectator sport in the country – yes people actually get out of their armchairs and GO RACING!  Football is the most popular of course and this is much to do with the TV coverage and newspaper column inches of course, but it is also because you can buy a £2 football and, at any age, dream of being the next Beckham, or impress your mates with your ball juggling – even if in reality you are an estate agent from Bradford!

Racing does not have that “anyone can do this” affinity.   To become part of the sport the public perception is that you have to be a multi-millionaire, or an Arab prince, or “Lord Monocle of Pass the Port”.  The attempts of the racecourses to attract race-goers has to be applauded.  Even if to the purist, Olly Murs and a best dressed child competition detracts from the racing.  What now needs to happen is the myth of racing being elitist needs to be tackled, and ownership become a possibility.  This is where racing beats football – you are highly unlikely to own a football club but you can own a horse (or part at least).

In Australia around 60% of Aussies own part of a racehorse – albeit the tip of an ear.   In the far-East, albeit fuelled by betting, the crowds are massive and the interest huge – and shared ownership common.  Even in the Arab states where there is no gambling (although despite being a non-gambler I find this reduces the element of jeopardy) a night at Meydan or Jebel Ali is packed to the roof. But racing is seen as an inclusive sport in these places, whereas in the UK it is not.

The rise of syndicates and clubs in the UK and Ireland is a boost much needed to increase this interest.  Many trainers rely increasingly on them to stay in business.  At last many racecourses have increased the owners’ ticket allocation to meet increased shared ownership.  Even the BHA have streamlined the ownership process and made it easier to police the quality and standard of the growing numbers of syndicate bodies – and have a levy system now fit to deliver rewards to the grass roots.

But the very agencies who should be fighting hardest do not.  For all the good changes, the BHA has a policy, as encapsulated in the rules on balloting out, that lower grade horses should be discouraged from running.  Good for the sport? Well it is if we want to keep the riff raff out, but there are many sub-50 rated horses who, when pitted against each other, will make for exciting racing, and low cost ownership options. – as well as swell the levy through betting income.

Great British Racing ; Rod Street and his team – I have yet to see any tangible benefit from their efforts.  Certainly they have the Champions Series but that is Qipco doing all the hard work and making it actually happen.  I remember being at a “do” at Ascot once where GBR were holding a small gathering.  Everyone of those attending it were already owners, and when one young couple approached the cordoned area, they were intercepted by a woman who looked at them like they had stepped in something the dog does and told them “This isn’t for you”!  Well who is it for if not exactly those people?

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Owner & Breeder magazine – widening the gap? 

Even the superb Owner & Breeder magazine has, in the last few months, dedicated pages of print to “Lifestyle”.  This is a publication which is the gateway to racing yet perpetuates the idea of millionaires and Faberge eggs.  Stop it!

We are quick to turn our nose up at the drunkenness we see at Royal Ascot, and rightly so.  But has anyone stopped to think that these young and, I agree unruly, people are acting like this precisely because they feel like outsiders.  I love to feel special as an owner, but I also resent that racing portrays its participants as champagne swilling, helicopter owning, winter-in-the-Caribbean chinless wonders.  Tell that to the trainers up at 4am, or the breeders knee deep in muck, or the grassroots owners worried if they can pay the mortgage as well as their £100 a month racehorse share.  Aspiration is great but setting unreachable goals and packaging a sport so that it appears that owning a Rolex and driving a Merc are prerequisites will only harm the most exciting sport I know and love.  The only yawning then is not about boredom but the gap between what racing is seen as and what it should be.

 

2018 – Our Biggest Year

NY2018Happy New Year!  And Happy Birthday to all the thoroughbreds out there.  Our foals of 2017 are now yearlings and join an ever increasing band of horses bred by Abacus Bloodstock, who are at various stages of their careers.

Quite apart from the five yearlings however, this year will see the most horses bred by Abacus Bloodstock racing in the UK.  These range from 2 year olds through to our eldest horses aged 5 this year.  Our first homebred racer, the famous Pancake Day is 6 this year but more of him later.

We sold all of the horses who will race as 2 year olds this year, and they include the following:

  • The only colt by Albaasil from his first crop – now owned by Richie Fiddes

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    Colt by Mazameer – 2yo for 2018

  • A colt by Mazameer and last foal of Los Organos- now in training with Nikki Evans in Wales
  • A colt by Mawatheeq from a mare related to Golden Horn and in pre-training in the North (trainer yet to be decided)

All colts and all early looking types so we wish them and their new owners all the luck in the world.

Of the 3 year olds, two have raced as 2 yo’s – Elegant Joan (owned by Abacus Bloodstock Racing Club & trained by David Griffiths)

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Tin Fandango – ready to run with Mark Usher and team

and Little Aub (trained by Mark Usher), and will now pursue exciting handicap careers.  Both showed great potential but with a handicap mark they will undoubtedly do well amongst horses of similar capabilities.  Tin Fandango (trained by Mark Usher) has grown into a beautiful looking 3 year old and we should see him on the turf around May.  We have no news of the other 2015 crop yet but we will update the website once we do.

Of the older horses, Roll on Rory (trained by Jason Ward) continues to lead the way from a ratings viewpoint.  He won a smart mile race at Newmarket at the end of the 2017 turf season, and has to be a good prospect off a good mark in 2018.  That is unless he is sold overseas as he nearly was last year – to Hong Kong.

Finally Pancake Day – at six he is the oldest of our bred horses still racing.  Following a successful pre-Christmas campaign in Europe, he ran at Neuss over the New Year period and has shown signs of a growing weakness in his knee.  He has raced over 60 times in a short career and never gives anything but 100%.  He is perfectly sound normally but at the level of professional racing it is likely the weakness will play a vital role.  Owned now by the Berg family in Germany, they have asked us to have him back for his retirement.  We will assess him when he gets back to us, and then, if possible, he will compete in RoR and other non-racing classes as a much loved pet.  We will of course share his exploits in the future.

So with the decorations taken down for another year, we wish all the horses a safe and successful racing year, and to all the owners and trainers we give our thanks for having the faith in owning and  racing our horses.  Good luck to all!

Abacus Review 2017

We have now completed our second year at Lower Linbrook Farm and what a year!

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2017’s foals are a lovely bunch

Whenever you move it is of course an upheaval, but when you have nearly 20 horses of various ages to take with you, it can be a real challenge.  Not only that, but it is getting used to the new grazing; the soil conditions, growth rates, weed control and local weather.  Then there is getting the best suppliers to support the operation and building a new team of staff to make it happen.  They are the things you have to hope work out and then there are the things you can control like investing in fencing, new stables and equipment.  So at the end of 2017 we can safely say  we have settled in and that we are now all systems go for the future.

First though, a look back at 2017.  The year started well when Pancake Day once again delivered a win at his favourite track Southwell for new trainer David Griffiths.  Pancake has consistently delivered for his owners and this year was to be the same again.  He was our first winner as breeders and, when he was sold overseas in March he was to go on to be our first winner overseas too.  A real fighter, he will race until April 2018 and hopefully retire sound after about 60 runs in competition – almost 30% of which have earned prize money!  He has won at least once EVERY year he has raced.

Roll on Rory had a slow start to the season.  He must have been a real challenge for trainer Jason Ward and his owners as he went to his races fit and well, only to run into traffic or a few horses in better mood for racing.  His 2016 season resulted in a high mark of 93, but it was not until he dropped to a mark in the 80’s that he made an impression this season.  With a number of placings in some hot races, he finally shone with a very impressive win on the Rowley Mile at the back end of the turf season, beating some top horses and showing he was just playing in his previous races.  All look well for next season when he should be a black-type horse in all honesty.

Our two year olds all found some nice homes as yearlings and so far there have been a few runs from them.  No wins as yet but some very useful educational runs which will see them good for the coming season as 3 year olds.  We were also pleased to see the 2016

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Mazameer yearling now with Nikki Evans

crop go to some superb trainers and we will look forward to some very exciting appearances as 2 year olds in 2018.  There is a very exciting Mazameer colt with Nikki Evans and it will be interesting to see how the only colt from Albaasil’s first crop does for Richie Fiddes.  It is becoming a real challenge to keep up with all the horses nowadays, it is only six in total but will double next year – thank goodness for the BHA tracking service!

March was a really busy month for us as we had our foals born throughout the month.  Three colts (Mazameer, Telescope and Cityscape) and a filly (Fast Company).  We subsequently purchased another mare with a filly foal by Heeraat making it 5 foals.  All of them are doing well and growing like crazy.  The grazing here is great for growth and with an additional 20 acres recently acquired, we are able to offer turnout all year, although getting a rug on a stroppy weanling can be fun at times!

On a sad note we lost Los Organos this year.  She was not in foal and whilst she was not

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Los Organos – a sad loss this year

an old horse, it became apparent that the recurrence of her back injury from racing would make life too uncomfortable for her.  She was a lovely mare and is sadly missed.

Happier times later this year as we completed the installation of our all-weather arena and gained planning permission for the horse walker (installing in January 18).  We also

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Elegant Joan – racing throughout winter & 2018

launched Abacus Bloodstock Racing Club in the autumn and have a number of members looking forward to the first run of Elegant Joan (Assertive x Fangfoss Girls) for the club at Wolverhampton on 27th December.  She ran twice on turf for the owner who leased her originally, but financial issues meant that she has come back to us.  She will eventually retire to stud with us, and so it is important we give her the very best chance of winning in the meantime.  To become a member of the club (just £80!) please visit our website.

More about the future in the new year, but all that remains for me to say is a big thank you to my wife Sarah, who works 7 days a week to make the place work.  Also to the staff, our professional support including Andy the farrier and Jenny the vet and to our suppliers who work with us to give the horses the best feed and care.

To the horses on the track, and those yet to run, we wish you and your connections success and a safe return.  To our clients and members of the Abacus Bloodstock Racing Club we say thank you for choosing us and may you all have a Merry Christmas and a successful, winning 2018.

 

Cheltenham or bust?

Those of you that follow my tweets (@stumat) will be aware that I have recently been

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Top class racing but is Cheltenham the only real test of a horse?

twittering on about jump racing’s pre-occupation with all things Cheltenham.  There is no denying that the Cheltenham Festival, and indeed this weekend’s pre-Christmas meeting, offers a feast of some of the best National Hunt horses in training.  BUT not all – and to pretend this is the case would degrade the hard work of all the yards who have horses running elsewhere in the country, and all the horses who try their hardest to win.

In my comments, I have tried not to down play the importance of Cheltenham to the racing calendar – I am a fan of the place and the spectacle of racing there, but it seems

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My Tent Or Yours wins his first race at Cheltenham  – overcoming The New One

the yard stick used by the racing press and pundits is “but will the horse win at Cheltenham?”.  It was not until today that My Tent or Yours won at Cheltenham, despite having been at the top of the game for many years.  So does that mean he wasn’t a successful and highly rated horse until he succeeded today?  Does it mean that Red Rum was not arguably the best chaser over long distances because none of his wins came at Cheltenham?  Does it mean that the many prolific, hard working trainers yet to win on the Cheltenham stage are somehow “also rans”?

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Despite never winning at Cheltenham, Red Rum can hardly be seen as a second rate chaser

Importantly, if NH racing allows everything it does to be distilled down into two weeks of racing at one track in Gloucestershire, then the public will not be interested in the less exciting meetings throughout the rest of the year.  Last Saturday, Doncaster races included two Grade 2’s – and yet it was the under card on the day and had one news item

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Less known tracks offer racing as exciting and as good a test for a horse.

all  the preceding week included on the Racing Post app.  By contrast, as far back as last Thursday week, pundits were writing daily about the cold snap and the effect it may have on Cheltenham.  What about Ayr, Newcastle or Uttoxeter who did have meetings called off?  Attendances are low at many jump races, particularly mid-week and it does nothing to help when the impression is that the only way to see exciting racing is to go to Cheltenham – this is clearly not the case but is a perception being projected.   Go to Towcester or Wincanton and all you get is racing akin to non-league football?  Really?

Equally importantly is the perception which owners could mistakenly be given.  Many owners, despite being fans of racing, are increasingly coming from syndicates and, thankfully, newer avenues of introduction into racing.  But if they they are repeatedly told their success is measured in having a Cheltenham horse, then their passion for the game will soon be exhausted by a mid-week placing at Fontwell Park.

National Hunt racing is a great sport – heroic, tragic, exciting and enthralling.  Not just at Cheltenham but anywhere that well trained horses compete, supported by dedicated professionals and committed owners.  Don’t let them tell you it’s Cheltenham or nothing!

 

Abacus Bloodstock Racing Club Launched

Abacus Bloodstock has launched its new racing club, aimed at offering “full” ownership without the expense.  Many clubs offer low rates of membership, but in return members get a tiny percentage of prize money (more like a dividend), if indeed any is offered; a lottery entry into race day ticket draws; and a few extra perks – none of which constitute a true ownership experience.

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ABRC’s first horse – Elegant Joan (Treacle) is a daughter of winner Fangfoss Girls

Abacus Bloodstock Racing Club is different however in as much as it GUARANTEES a raceday ticket for all members with a 5% or greater stake, prize money is not a dividend but paid out in direct proportion to the shareholding, and members can choose shares from 1% and upwards in 5% share allotments.  Prices start from £25 per month with 5% costing just £80.  There are no hidden fees and nothing more to pay.

Stuart Matheson, club manager and co-owner of Abacus Bloodstock, says “As breeders we wanted to offer a way for people to enjoy racing without blowing the bank, and to also benefit from being part of the experience from the birth of a foal, into racing and through to retirement and potentially into the breeding sheds. We will predominantly race our fillies through the club, and with the ‘This Filly Can’ scheme currently in place, the potential prize money is excellent.”

Members can enjoy the full raceday experience as well as additional benefits like social events, regular visits to the stud in Staffordshire, updates on all the horses, and of course trainer visits.  The horses will be leased to the club, meaning costs are low as there are no purchase prices to recoup, and options will be offered on horses upon retirement to the stud as broodmares or stallions.

Stuart went on to say, “So whilst members do not physically own the  race horses, we want to offer members the chance to invest in longer term breeding options once the horses have shown their potential.  It’s a bit like ‘try before you buy’, and it also means that by investing in a horse at an early stage, there is the potential to benefit in the longer term and reap the rewards so often denied club members elsewhere.  A fact we believe is fair and innovative in the world of racing clubs.”

The first horse to run in the club colours is the homebred filly Elegant Joan (known as Treacle), a daughter of Assertive and of Abacus Bloodstock mare Fangfoss Girls.  She is half sister to two multiple winners in Pancake Day (a recent winner in Belgium – The Prix

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Group winning trainer David Griffiths

Strasbourg) and Roll on Rory who contested the Windsor Castle Stakes as a 2 year old and has gone on to achieve a rating as high as 93.  Both brothers have won in every year they have raced and been in the money places in more than 60% of their races.  With the mare having a 100% strike rate for producing winners, Treacle is poised to add another winner to the family and will race throughout Winter 2017 and through 2018.  She is in training with group winning trainer David Griffiths.

 

To become a member please visit the Abacus Bloodstock Racing Club website, or contact us at racing@abacus-bloodstock.co.uk