OVER 35 people attended Mathew de Kock’s Onamission Syndicate’s Open Morning at Randjesfontein on a chilly Father’s Day, last Sunday.
There are well over 100 shareholders in the Syndicate’s four horses Puget Sound, Elbi, Arminius and Majestic Thunder, many of them holding only a 1% share, but this was a good turnout of mostly young individuals considering that several shareholders are based overseas.
We’ve hammered on about syndicates being a way of attracting new blood into racing and Mathew de Kock said: “The concept has worked, and we’ve met any number of wonderful people as this turnout shows.
“We’ve given the shareholders a chance of seeing what goes on behind the scenes, and many of them have come racing over the last two years. Our Open days include breakfast and a stable visit, we’ve tried to make things special for them,” said Mathew.
Onamission has enjoyed six wins in two years with Puget Sound and Elbi, while the stable quickly found the disappointing St Etienne another home. There has been a big crossover of shareholders between the first three and the following two, Arminius (Vercingetorix) and Majestic Thunder (Mambo In Seattle).
Mike de Kock said: “We’ve learnt a few things with Mathew’s Syndicate, not least of all that there is still a lively interest in racing among all people, young and old. One just has to reach them and get them involved.
“I do think, however, that we’ll be focusing more on horses from the Ready To Run sale and also horses in training so that shareholders don’t have to wait that long for a runner. We live in a world where instant gratification is key, we can never do it with horses but we can make the process shorter.”
Syndicate manager Chase Liebenberg said that more than 50% of shareholders have come from social media: “We run a website, twitter and facebook and there are always queries coming in, the more we promote it, the more queries we get. The other 50% comes from existing stable patrons, friends of friends or word of mouth. The concept works, and we are encouraged by the participation of young people.”
Gary Alexander was one of the pioneers of horse syndication for owners in South Africa and the stable’s Dean Alexander commented: “Things are a bit slow, like the country, but everything will pick up. Our syndicates are still going strong, we’ll be launching new ones when we get to the two-year-old sale in August.”
Alexander said that the stable preferred to deal in share blocks of 10% and higher. “This suits us best, and we don’t buy horses in the millions, which makes bigger share blocks easier to afford. And we keep the monthly bill as reasonable as possible.”
Alexander added: “We stable our syndicate purchases for a few months and train them to see how quickly they will run, and also to see if they have any ability before we make the syndicate offer. This gives our clients a better chance of success.”
Justin Snaith has a regular band of syndicate patrons, buying share blocks of 10% and up, that form varying partnerships for whichever runners become available and Snaith said: “Syndication is the future of horseracing. I don’t think any trainer can survive without some form of horse syndication in the stable.”
Snaith, also in favour of small percentages to cover all angles, teamed up with Oscar Foulkes of Normandy Stud recently to attract smaller owners in the Normandy Racing Syndicate, approaching 15 members.
Foulkes has taken on the job of marketing, owner communication and administration of his syndicates and said: “It’s a big job, but I have a good spreadsheet that makes things easier, and I do it for the love of the game. We’ve had some nice new patrons on board.
“We work on a smaller entry fee and then a small monthly bill, we have six horses in the first syndicate and once they are all ready and racing the aim is to have a runner every week.
“At the moment we’re experimenting with different customised packages to see what will work best but yes, we welcome the 1% shareholders. They are the ones that can become bigger players in the future.
“Our first runner Tango With Tigers ran at Kenilworth last Monday, he finished seven lengths off after losing plenty of ground at the start so there is much improvement coming. We had a few shareholders there and they enjoyed it, we’d like them to see racing from a different perspective.”
At the moment, Normandy Racing offers horses bred by the successful Normandy Stud, but Foulkes said: “We won’t be limiting the syndicates to Normandy-breds, I’ve started pinhooking suitable yearlings for the Ready To Run Sale, they may also become available in time.”
Grant Knowles runs his ’Tractor’ syndicates for fun and profit, with packages to suit everyone. He buys with the aim of proving runners in South Africa and then selling on to Mauritius or elsewhere to make a profit for all involved. Sandy Gill and Catherine Hartley offer something similar with Imagine Racing.
Justin Vermaak of Green Street Bloodstock has been focusing on building his syndication business in Singapore, but with well over 50 winners in three years he still leads the pack for smaller investors and said in a recent interview: “The ownership is for anyone but these are racehorses and shares cost more than a loaf of bread! We like to keep it to 10% shares but 5% can be arranged and 10% shares start from as low as R4 000.”
There are packages to suit everyone and a number of stables to join, but the most important aspect at this stage, we believe, is to get more trainers to devise and market their own syndication offers. Websites are not expensive to set up, twitter, facebook and Instagram are free. Marketing always makes a difference. The next small patron you find could be the next Marsh Shirtliff, or Nic Jonsson, or Etienne Braun. Who knows?
Original article at Turftalk