You don’t have to be a millionaire to own a racehorse – here’s how

Ever fancied owning a racehorse?
Ever fancied owning a racehorse?

On March 15 a select field of the best horses in training will navigate 3.3 miles and 22 fences in a bid to win the Gold Cup at Cheltenham and take home £625,000 in prize money.

But how do you become part of the community of approximately 8,000 racehorse owners in the UK who have the opportunity to win over £625,000 in the one race? 

You may be surprised but it is perhaps not as big a pipe dream as you think and there are several different ways that you can own a racehorse, from sole ownership to buying a minor 2.5% share in one.

Ahead of this year’s Cheltenham Festival, William Hill has done some research to give a full breakdown on the three main ways you can own a racehorse in the UK.

Owning a racehorse is expensive and beyond the cost of purchase there are ongoing costs. The Racehorse Owners Association (ROA) has reported, for example, that the average annual cost of a jump horse is £16,325. 

As an owner you’ll be responsible for paying for training fees, farrier services, for supplements, clipping and visits to the vet.

If you own a horse outright, this mountain of costs will be your responsibility alone. However, through shared ownership, you can take on just a portion of the financial burden.

And according to the ROA, this is very common – more than 60% of racehorses currently trained in Britain are in a joint ownership, syndicate or partnership.

Syndication

Syndication is the most accessible form of ownership. A few hundred pounds will allow you to have your own small share of a racehorse. If you want a larger chunk, it will cost thousands. It’s probably the safest way to go if you’re looking to become involved in an investment like this.  

The main purchaser of the horse needs to be a registered owner, but it isn’t necessary for anyone else that joins the syndicate.

The number of people in a syndicate varies, but it’s usually from 10 to a maximum of 20 – and the percentage of ownership is offered in 2.5% increments; typically, 2.5%, 5% or 10%.

Partnership

In this instance, two or more people who want to share the ownership of one or more horses can do so. All of the people involved have to be registered owners, which involves more admin.

This format allows owners to define the percentage of each horse they own, splitting winnings and costs and accordingly.

Sole ownership

You can, of course, buy a horse outright – if you have the money. Firstly, you have to register yourself as an owner with the British Horseracing Authority (BHA).

After that, as a sole owner with a 100% share in the animal, all the financial implications (both outgoings and winnings) are yours. Excitingly, it also means the horse will run in your name and colours.

The outright cost of a horse varies; however, last year’s Gold Cup winner, Native River, only cost around £5,220 (€6,000), yet he won over £500,000 on that race alone.

“For jump racing fans Cheltenham is the big one. It is the one meeting that every owner in Britain aspires to one day have a winner. In fact just having a runner is an aspiration for the vast majority of horse racing fans and this research proves that it is not just the super-rich that can afford to buy a future champion,” said William Hill spokesman Rupert Adams.