So You Want to Go Jump Racing?
You can go jump racing as a spectator, as an owner – and maybe even as a participant. Either way, it’s a grand time and one that goes back to 1752 and the first recorded jump race – a “steeplechase” from one church to another in Ireland.
In more modern times, jump racing is exactly what it sounds like – a horse race over jumps. Hugely popular and big business in Ireland and England, the sport fills more of a niche of Thoroughbred racing in the United States but is nonetheless a multi-faceted undertaking. Races take place in 11 states, with total prize money approaching $6 million in 2015. One-day race meets occur in the spring and fall, and often raise money for charities while summer racing occurs at some of the country’s most storied racetracks – including the world-famous Saratoga Race Course in upstate New York.
Go Jump Racing is a campaign undertaken by the National Steeplechase Association Promotion and Growth Task Force. Short term, the aim is to increase participation among horses and owners. Long term, it’s to promote the sport to prospective owners and new fans. If you made it this far, it’s safe to assume you want to know a little more. Read on.
What’s a Steeplechase Horse?
He, or she, is a Thoroughbred racehorse with the athletic ability and mental capacity to run and jump at the same time. Most likely bred with the Kentucky Derby or some other lofty goal in mind, a steeplechase horse never quite got there – through circumstance or luck or calamity. He hates the starting gate. He loves the turf. He really doesn’t get excited about running any distance shorter than 2 miles. His brain gets engaged, and puts his body to work, when asked to jump a 4-foot fence every eighth of a mile or so.
How do I get one?
Any number of ways. If your own horses that race on the flat, you might already have a steeplechase prospect. A steeplechaser normally wants to race on the turf, at longer distances. Ask your trainer about it. Or send us an email and we’ll get someone to evaluate your horse. Ownership can look daunting to someone who doesn’t know anything about it, but there are plenty of ways to get started. Go Jump Racing hosted its first Owners’ Symposium and Marketplace Auction in April 2015 and plans to host similar events going forward. It’s a great place to meet people, learn more and maybe buy a horse.
What’s an owner?
Anyone can be an owner, though it helps to know the basics and get introduced to the game. In general, the owner owns the horse, chooses the trainer (often the trainer recruits the owner, but we’ll get to that) and pays the bills. You also get to come along for the ride – no, not literally – as the one responsible for it all. The horse races in your silks, under your name in the program. If he finishes in the first six, you get paid a portion of the purse. Example: A horse wins a $25,000 race. The winning owner gets 60 percent, in this case $15,000. A horse isn’t cheap, so don’t expect to get rich but there’s more to the game than purse checks.
What’s it like?
Magical. Watch this.
There are few athletes like a Thoroughbred racehorse, the perfect mix of speed, stamina, smarts, legs, life and lungs. They race at great speed, fly over fences and will eat a mint out of your hand a few hours afterward.
Going to the races, when your horses is running at a steeplechase meet – on a gorgeous spring or fall day in the Carolinas or Tennessee or Pennsylvania – is an event. It’s a bit like owning a sports franchise, only on a far smaller scale. Your “star player” does not ask to renegotiate his contract, but does eat every day. And you pay for the food.
Things to think about
Cost: It’s not cheap. Average daily training fees are $75 to $150. That includes the basics – training, food, a stall on a farm or a training center. It does not include veterinary care, shoes, shipping, entry fees, and so on. For more information, visit www.ownerview.com/getting-started/estimated-training-costs.
Your trainer: Choose a trainer. Do you want a big name with dozens of horses? A smaller operation where you’ll get more attention? An up-and-comer? A veteran with decades of experience?
The deal: There are as many variations on the theme as there are horses – you can own one horse by yourself, you can buy part of a horse and share the costs (perhaps even with your trainer to decrease expenses), you can join a racing partnership, you can lease a horse for a pre-determined length of time, and on and on.
Get started: If want to find out what it’s like, reach out to us and we’ll get you to a race meet, introduce you to a trainer, let you talk to other owners. We can help introduce you to jump racing, whether you own a racehorse already or have never been part of the sport.
No pressure, just some correspondence and hopefully a window into a great game.
For More Information:
Al Griffin: firstname.lastname@example.org or (540) 219-1400.
Sean Clancy: email@example.com or (302) 545-7713
Joe Clancy: firstname.lastname@example.org or (302) 545-4424