Born ‘n’ bred for the races

2012-01-13 13:12

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


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


“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 or

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


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