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Horse on the gallops

Buying a National Hunt Horse with Philip Hobbs

We are delighted to have Philip Hobbs as the lead member of our National Hunt trainer team.  In part this is due to his exemplary training record, excellent facilities and ultra-professional approach, but equally important is his commitment to helping Owners for Owners bring experienced owners together so that we can “join forces to buy better horses”.  He has been a great supporter of ours since we started and we have had a good measure of success with him.  Philip trains 112 horses at his yard at Bilbrook, near Minehead in Somerset;  has had over 2,000 winners and always finishes high up the country’s top NH trainer list, usually winning well over £1m per season for his owners.  With wife Sarah, assistant trainer Johnson White and champion jockey Richard Johnson, there is strength in depth within this team.

If you would like to be involved in this six-owner partnership for the new 2016/17 season, please contact Jon Hughes by phone on 01451 850780 or 07958 763159, or email on Purchase price of the horse, for a one-sixth share, is £6,100 + VAT (which will be reclaimed) and the annual cost per partner will be £3,880 in advance, or £975 quarterly, or £325 per month, from 1st June 2016.

Buying a sixth share in the bay 5yo gelding, Dr Dunraven

  • Total purchase price of the horse, including vetting, transport from Ireland, keep fees to end May 2016 and initial insurance:  £36,600.
  • Purchase price per sixth share:  £6,100 + VAT (reclaimed for each owner), paid as a lump sum on joining the partnership.
  • Annual estimated training fees and associated costs per partner:  £3,880, or £975 per quarter, or £325 per month.  All prize-money and VAT to be returned directly to the partnership.
  • Horse to race in the colours of one of the partners, each year by rotation.
Dr Dunraven

We started looking for a new horse for Philip Hobbs in late autumn, 2015.  The brief was very clear in that we wanted a horse that was absolutely “ready to go” rather than a young, raw store horse.  Ideally it was going to be a 4 or preferably 5yo with some point-to-point experience and it needed to have the size, substance and scope to be a chaser in the making.  Finding such a horse in the current bloodstock market, however, proved to be a real challenge and despite Philip and his main agent Aiden Murphy going to all the key sales at Aintree, Punchestown and Cheltenham we failed to find any horse that we were able to buy.  Indeed a number of those we selected sold for well over £100,000 and in one instance, £220,000, showing the huge demand that currently exists. 

So in late spring we decided to change tack and look to buy privately through personal contacts.  One of these, Bryan Murphy, who owns the well-known Dunraven Arms Hotel in Co. Limerick, has sourced many top-class horses for Philip over the years, not least Phardante Flyer, Crack On, Dunraven Storm and Supreme Prince, who have 29 wins between them.  One of the horses in his care, Dr Dunraven, had run in a 5yo maiden point-to-point at Athlacca on 7th May, making steady progress through the field until tipping up four out.  We saw the horse at Bryan’s stud on 14th May and immediately bought him on looks and potential.  Indeed Bryan openly admitted that the plan was to run him in another point-to-point and if he had done well in that, the price would have doubled.  However he was very keen for the horse to go to Philip and priced him competitively to enable us to acquire him and send him straight over to Somerset.  He has been turned out for the summer, will come back in for full training on 11th July and is likely to start off in 2¼-2½m novice hurdling from 1st October, possibly with a pipe-opener in a bumper first.

Dr Dunraven Chart

The sire Dr Massini, by Sadler’s Wells, was a high-class 10-12f colt trained by Aidan O’Brien.  Better known for jumping progeny than Flat, he has produced many successful NH horses, not least Massini’s Maguire (OR 157), trained by Philip (£260,000 prize-money from 7 wins including the Staying Novice’s Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival and 10 places) as well as Sound Investment (OR 162, 7 wins, £149k), Rocky Creek (OR 160, 5 wins, £253k) and the ultra-prolific Foster’s Cross (£224k, 13 wins, 24 places from 82 runs).

Our horse is the fifth foal from Bajan Girl from a dam line that has produced a number of notable horses, with the best over jumps being Martin Pipe’s Wahiba Sands, a 160+ hurdler / chaser up to 2½m.  He was very tough, winning 11 times and placed 19 times from over 60 runs including a win in the Gerry Fielden Hurdle at Newbury and placed in both the Melling Chase at Aintree and the Tingle Creek at Sandown.  Fistral Beach is also in in the line, and won the Bet365 Chase at Wetherby for Paul Nicholls as well as coming 3rd in the Topham Chase at Aintree.  Medaille Militaire also did well as a smart middle-distance Flat performer and useful hurdler.

Dr Dunraven was quickly assessed by assistant trainer Johnson White when he arrived at Bilbrook.  He seems a very straightforward horse, settled in rapidly and has no bad manners.  This was relayed back to us by one of the first owners to get involved in him, who had been to the Cheltenham sale the previous day before popping in to Philip’s to see him.  His enthusiastic comment was, “If he had gone through the ring he would have been a stand-out and notwithstanding the P2P fall, would have sold for far more than you paid.  He really fills the eye, everything in good proportion, stands well and straight, excellent frame and great angle to the shoulder.  A lovely individual.  Good buy.” 


Number of Partners

  • Six equal partners.
  • All partners to be, or become, Registered Owners.
  • Racing enthusiasts, combining optimism with realism.
  • Each partner has an identical shareholding of 16.66%.
  • Full involvement for all partners in key decisions.
  • Horse to run in the partners’ colours (by annual rotation).

Cost Management

  • Owners for Owners monitor all costs carefully every month and do everything possible to keep costs to the necessary minimum.  However, it can be quite difficult to estimate the costs for National Hunt, particularly veterinary work, so the above should be regarded as indicative only.
  • Budget for annual training fees and associated costs are estimates, based on previous horses with Philip Hobbs.  Precise amounts will vary, depending on time spent in full training, number of runs, transport costs, veterinary requirements, etc.
  • Precise annual accounts are produced, with any surplus distributed to the partners.
  • All our costs are completely transparent and available to all partners.  There are no mark-ups or hidden margins.

Regular Communication to all the Partners

  • Owners for Owners is committed to ensuring that every owner is actively involved with the horse, the yard and the partnership.  There is complete openness on everything to do with the horse and its training.
  • The web site is updated regularly, with a monthly Latest News section and privileged access to the Owners’ Area for the partnership’s horse.
  • On the 1st and 15th of the month an email update is sent to all the owners highlighting the progress of all the horses and their likely race targets.  This is accompanied by a fortnightly blog, The Owner’s Opinion, looking at topical owning and racing issues.
  • Every Sunday there is an update email to each owner with the latest news about their horse.
  • Every owner is encouraged to circulate photos or smartphone videos when they have visited the horse.


Partnership Principles

  • Legally, all partners are equal co-owners of the horse and will have all the advantages of that, e.g. full access to the horse, a badge on every race day, equal share of prize-money, etc.
  • Commitment by the partners is to retain the horse for a minimum of two years, when there will be a detailed review to assess performance and potential.  That also provides a clear exit route for owners if required.
  • At the end of the first year there is also a review when we take into account the recommendations of the trainer as to the horse’s future.  This review will be done before the spring or autumn horses-in-training sales, thereby keeping this option open if the trainer so recommends.
  • All decisions on continuity to be made by the partners, taking on board the recommendations of the trainer.
  • All prize-money, and any budget surplus through VAT reclaims etc., to be returned to each partner as an annual dividend.
  • The horse will be sponsored, enabling VAT to be reclaimed and credited to the partnership.
  • All the administration is done by Owners for Owners on behalf of the partnership.
  • Very low administration cost of £150 per year, per partner, to cover VAT reclaims, book-keeping, preparation of annual accounts, administration of registrations etc., and web site updates.

Tremendous Value for Money

How does this compare with some of the larger commercial syndicates?  Many double the purchase price of the horse and charge £300 or more (sometimes substantially greater) per month for a twelfth share, which equates to around £600 per month for a sixth share rather than the £325 that Owners for Owners charge.  Buying into a horse with Owners for Owners reduces the costs per partner by around 50%, with huge savings merely by cutting out expensive racing managers with high administration costs, and not charging indefensible mark-ups on the initial purchase price of the horse.

And of course another difference is the level of involvement – open access to Philip Hobbs’ yard and close participation with fellow partners in all the key decisions relating to the horse.  This is guaranteed to maximise the enjoyment in owning (hopefully) an exciting NH prospect.

Philip Hobbs Racing