A Horse by The Name of Fractional Life
Fractional racehorse ownership has been around since the mid 1980s in the form of 'syndicates' and is one of the earliest forms of true fractional ownership and is, perhaps, why we have a plethora of fractional opportunities today.
The exotic world of top-drawer racehorse ownership has traditionally been the preserve of very rich men and women. Aristocrats, Arab princes and those that enjoy the upper echelons of the high life using old money or new gamble on pedigree as well as starting prices.
Celebrities of every generation, from the comedian Freddie Starr in the 20th century to Alex Ferguson, Jodie Kidd, Lawrence Dallaglio and Andrew Lloyd-Webber in the 21st, have attempted to gatecrash the party from time to time. While most ordinary punters have tended to abstain from racing's allure with the odd speculative once-a-year flutter on the Grand National down at the local bookies, there has been a marked increase in the avid race-goer's approach to getting more than just close to the action and excitement in the grandstands.
The 2005 Derby made racing history: Motivator, the winning horse, was not owned by a super-rich breeder or personality, but by a syndicate of 230 people from the smart-moneyed classes.
Motivator started as the favourite for the most famous flat race in the world and, as the pace developed, he was willed on by the syndicate owners and favourite backers alike. Coming onto the final straight with three-times-Derby-winning rider Johnny Murtagh in the saddle, the powerful bay colt stormed home five lengths clear of his rivals.
Cheers and excited whoops from the crowd ensued and this victory was special.
When Motivator returned to the unsaddling enclosure, his ecstatic owners from the Royal Ascot Racing Club were already celebrating, for they had never imagined a day like this-it was the stuff of dreams! Their delirious expressions of joy were a glorious contrast to the normal poker faces that greet flat racing champions in the winner's circle.
At the forefront of the throng was Sue Brealey, a 43-year-old PR executive from central London, who "opened up my newspaper the following morning and saw an enormous picture of yours truly grinning like a schoolgirl with a crush on a movie star. But I don't care. You've been the owner of a Derby winner, even if there are 229 other owners. And this horse has given most people involved with him more pleasure than they've ever had in their lives before."
Spurred on by dramatic events like the Derby of 2005, syndicate ownership by means of a racing club combining one flat-rate fee, excellent facilities and knowledgeable managerial insiders is taking off much as the whole fractional ownership concept is growing in the 21st century. And it is not hard to see why. An average-priced racehorse costs around £65 000 and another £25 000 or so a year to have the horse trained and travelled and vetted. But this is my serious 'head' talking and only half the reason. The other half is that syndicates are becoming more and more popular because of the excitement. It is not just the buildup and anticipation of racing occasions, the status and the winning (if you are lucky); it is the whole process of group attachment through ownership, however small. You are involved as much or as little as you wish to be in the horse's progress and development from yearling to racing. You become really close to the horse, coupled with the trainer and stable staff, which are, in effect, the horse's extended family.
Most of all, you have a lot of fun with limited downsides and, if you get in early on a syndicate, you can sometimes even choose the name of the horse.
A horse by the name of 'Fractional Life.' Now you're talking.