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How We Buy Our Horses and Plans for 2018

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 and Charlie Longsdon, 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 in Owners for Owners won – Shantou Magic (who also competed at the Cheltenham Festival), Quick Decisson (also a Cheltenham runner, and winner of a Grade 3 handicap hurdle), Lady Charisma (winning novice hurdler who was then sold back to the Irish breeding industry) and Houndscourt.  Not many partnership and syndicate organisations are lucky enough to buy their first four horses with all four of them winning.

Plans for 2018

Our main Flat trainer is Karl Burke at Middleham, whose yard is going from strength to strength, having just had a superb season with multiple Group 1 winners including the first two home in the valuable Prix Morny.  We normally find that horses offered to be trained by Karl sell out quickly.  Our plan is to buy another yearling with him at the Autumn Sales in 2018 and although it is some time off, please let Jon Hughes at Owners for Owners know if you’re interested in being involved in our next partnership with him, so that you can receive advance notice.

As you’ll have seen on this web site we have a particularly strong network of National Hunt trainers and owners.  Inevitably with the rigours of National Hunt, horses are sold or retired from time to time, whereupon we re-stock with horses at a range of price options.  We have a particularly close relationship with Martin Keighley in the North Cotswolds near Cheltenham, and there will be at least two exciting National Hunt prospects joining his yard in 2018.  Both will be horses who will go through to staying chasing in time, which is the type of horse with which Martin excels, recent examples being Champion Court and the cross-country specialist Any Currency.  Again, if you’re interested in getting involved in a National Hunt partnership, please contact Jon Hughes on 07958-763159.

Middleham Low Moor
Lambourn schooling grounds