How We Buy Our Horses
Probably the most important decision ever taken with a horse is the initial one – buying it in the first place. The second is to do with selecting trainers of the right quality and commitment, who are genuinely enthusiastic about working with small partnerships such as Owners for Owners. From day one, we have gone out of our way to get these two decisions right, with trainers Karl Burke, Philip Hobbs, Anthony Honeyball, Martin Keighley, Charlie Longsdon and Jamie Snowden, in conjunction with top-quality agents Gerry Hogan and Aidan Murphy. Here is how we buy them.
- Be Clear on the Specification: the rationale of Owners for Owners is to help owners by “joining forces to buy better horses”. It is vital to know exactly what type of horse you are looking for, and give a very clear brief and budget to trainers and agents. That enables you to rule out the majority of bloodstock and focus on horses with quality and correct conformation.
- Select and Use Experts: the majority of our owners are very experienced and have been involved in owning horses for years. But the real experts are our carefully selected trainers and agents. We totally rely on them to locate and then appraise in detail the horses we may buy. This is not just at the sales. They have excellent networks in the UK, Ireland and France.
- Stick to the Agreed Budget: while always delighted to acquire a “bargain” at the sales, we always ensure that there is an upper limit to the budget, so that all potential shareholders know exactly what our financial commitments will be. There is no “rush of blood” leading to overpayment for horses. We leave it to others to waste their money.
- Avoid Other People’s Problems: unfortunately there are often horses for sale who are physically incorrect or may be carrying injuries or serious breathing problems. We do everything possible to check and vet horses carefully, sometimes including leg scans and scoping. We are very wary of buying horses from the Flat for National Hunt racing.
- Don’t Interfere in the Process: some of our owners, including ourselves, love to go to the sales and form views on the various horses on offer. If a trainer or agent sought these views, we would share them. However, a cardinal rule is that we don’t interfere in the buying. Always follow the advice of the expert – and in particular, buy a horse that the trainer wants to train.
- Be Patient, and Wait for the Right Horse: there are thousands of horses sold every year. The bloodstock industry clearly has a vested interest in presenting every horse as a potential Classic or Cheltenham winner. Unfortunately, very few are stars. Patience is a virtue. Wait for a horse that really ticks all the boxes. If in doubt, don’t buy. Successes to date for Owners for Owners show that we have applied our own rules. For example, all our first four National Hunt purchases won – Shantou Magic (in novice hurdles, before competing in the 2014Cheltenham Festival), Quick Decisson (already a Grade 3 handicap hurdle winner who now goes novice chasing), Lady Charisma (a winning novice hurdler who has already added a lot of value to her future broodmare potential) and Houndscourt (won a novice hurdle). Not many operations will buy four horses with all four of them winning!
Plans for 2016
Our latest yearling with Karl Burke, Sunday Prospect, sold out within a week, reflecting the excellent performance of Karl’s yard over the last few years and his notable success with two-year-olds, but also more mature horses such as Odeliz winning Grade 1s. We will definitely be buying another yearling at the autumn sales in 2016. If you wish to be involved, please let Jon Hughes at Owners for Owners know so that you can receive advance notice.
We have a particularly strong network of National Hunt owners and with several of our horses having been either sold or retired we are responding to their requests to re-stock the NH team and also provide a range of price options. The decision has been taken to acquire three new horses which will be going to Philip Hobbs, Anthony Honeyball and Charlie Longsdon. Full details of the purchases will be up on this web site from the middle of May, 2016. If you are interested in getting involved in any of these horses or, indeed, the NH Store Horse partnerships, please contact Jon Hughes on 07958 763159.