The Future of Horse Racing: Ownership

December 20th, 2019

As part of a series, this first instalment looks at the power of ownership.

On any given race night, at any given track you will find in the ballpark of one hundred horses entered to race. And one thing is certain- there is no one more motivated to watch and bet on those horses than their owners. Owners fill dining room seats, grandstands, and will travel great distances to watch their horses race. But we are only limited to around one hundred of these motivated individuals per card of racing... or are we?

PL Nikita winning an OSS Gold Leg, picture with winning connections. Photo by Angeline Wong 2019.

What if the average horse had twenty, fifty, or even one hundred different owners? Put aside the challenges to this for a moment and just consider what this would mean. If each horse had one hundred owners, you could theoretically have 10,000 different owners with a horse in the race on a given night at a local track. That’s a lot of eyeballs motivated to watch, and a lot of butts to fill seats. And if you doubt that someone who owns 1% of a horse is motivated to watch and attend- just ask Anthony MacDonald who runs TheStable.ca:

The majority of our clients chose to own 5% or less of a horse on average. We are closing in on 800 clients in 12 countries and continue to have a high retention rate each year. I believe the flexibity of your financial risk and your dollar for dollar entertainment experience is what continues to make TheStable.ca an interesting proposition for all levels of ownership in our industry. What we have built at TheStable.ca in a sense is a community atmosphere where everyone watches their own, and each others stable horses. Not only do they watch these horses, but they bet them also. Which is vitally important for the growth of our industry. Look no further than the opening odds of the horses campaigned from TheStable.ca to see how more fractional stables can change the face of racing in this generation and beyond.

It is time to consider finding alternative motivations to attract a larger audience to our sport- and I think we’d be foolish to ignore the power of fractional ownership. What better way to introduce someone to the sport than by allowing them to experience ownership in an affordable way?

Charlotte enjoying the buffet dessert at Woodbine-Mohawk Park. Photo by Angeline Wong 2019.

Now- there are some big hurdles to overcome before we could realistically have one hundred owners on horses become a regular thing. Two of the biggest ones will stick out immediately to any trainers reading this who have had multiple owners on a horse they train:

  1. Billing is a nightmare. Having to split bills, worry about who owns what percentage of a horse and collecting from each owner individually is a lot of work.
  2. Communication is hard. Having to explain any time a situation arises with a horse is difficult enough with one owner- but when you consider having to repeat that conversation a hundred times, it becomes almost impossible.

Technology to the rescue. What if you could automate that billing so that it was just as easy to bill one hundred owners as it would be for one? What if you could easily communicate with the owners of a horse without having to scramble to remember who is included in the ownership of each horse?

Large groups like TheStable.ca are able to build their own solutions to this problem, but what about the average trainer who may only have a few horses? Can they be expected to hire a software developer and build out a solution of their own? I think that is unrealistic. We as an industry need to step up and provide a solution that allows trainers to take on additional owners without such heavy burdens.

I believe we can solve both of these issues with Bright Future Racing, our social stable management app which is still in early stages of development. We aim to help create one hundred new fractional ownership groups by 2022. But I want to be clear here- we are not the hero, you are. We can only be the guide. We need the support of the industry to make this platform a reality, and we will need horse people to embrace the concept and open up their doors to a whole wave of new owners.

These new owners are your neighbours, your coworkers, your friends. Finding them is only a matter of making the offer. Last year when I bought a yearling filly from the London Selected Yearling Sale, with one Facebook post and one tweet I was able to find 26 owners who were excited to take a small percentage of the purchase. Many had never owned a horse before, and knew very little about what it would be like, but they knew they liked horses and thought it would be fun. We enjoyed spending time at the track togther cheering our horse on, and hope to be back at the track as a group when she returns in the spring.

Let’s give more people a reason to go to the track. This is a vital part of the future of our sport. If you agree, or even if you disagree- let's have a conversation on twitter @offandpacing_ry

Posted by Ryan Clements

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