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How To Choose a Racehorse To Buy

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Depending on your goals and your budget, it’s not just a pipedream to become the owner of a racehorse in Australia. The price of the initial purchase will depend on a number of factors, and you don’t have to go it alone.

You could buy a horse in partnership with a few others, or even form a racehorse syndicate, spreading the costs and the risks.

Let’s look at a few tips and key points to keep in mind when deciding on a racehorse to buy.

Do You Want a Sprinter, Middle Distance Runner, a Stayer Or a Jumper?

This might be important or it might not. If you’re after a flat track racehorse, then maybe you don’t really care whether the horse excels at sprint races, middle distance events or long distance (stayer) races.

It’s a bit of a different game if you want a steeplechase horse though, as these horses generally need to be stayers that can regularly and consistently leap over obstacles as well.

Sprinters are racehorses that tend to specialise in short races up to around 1400 metres. Sometimes a little longer, but generally the maximum is 1400m. The shortest flat track distance is usually 800 metres.

Possibly the most common racehorse gracing Australian race tracks are the middle distance horses, who regularly compete in races that are anywhere from 1400 metres to 2200 metres. Many races fall within this distance bracket, and middle distance specialist also stand a chance of competing well in sprint races as well as longer stayer races.

Stayers are your long distance runners. Any race above 2200 metres is considered a race for stayers. Melbourne Cup horses, for instance, are stayers, with the race being run over a distance of 3200 metres, which is a very long horse race.

Young Horse Or Proven Champion?

When people go in search of a horse to buy with the intention of training it up to be a competitive racehorse, they’ll generally choose a horse that is about 2 years old and still developing.

This is definitely a much cheaper option, and it also gives you the latitude of training that horse exactly how you and your team want to.

The other alternative is to buy an older horse that is already matured and racing. The obvious advantage here is the horse has a track record. The biggest disadvantage is that if the horse is already a proven champion, the price to buy it is likely going to be astronomical.

Not impossible, but very high. This is where the advantage of having a syndicate comes into play. You can share the cost of purchasing the horse, plus all the other costs involved.

One thing to keep in mind is the age of the racehorse. There’s little point in buying an expensive champion horse if its best racing days are over.

How Involved Do You Want To Be?

This question is linked to how you want to go about owning your racehorse.

  • Sole owner
  • Partnership
  • Syndicate

If you’re the sole owner, then you’re naturally going to be far more involved on every level than if you buy shares in the horse through a syndicate.

As the sole owner you’ll be the one liaising regularly with trainers, stable hands, veterinary staff, dealing with events at the race track and so on.

If you don’t want to be that hands on, then you might be better off purchasing a racehorse with others in a partnership or syndicate.

Check the Australian Stud Book

The Australian Stud Book is an organisation and website where you can check the breeding history of a horse you’re interested in. Good breeding doesn’t guarantee a champion, but it does help.

At least you’ll know the background on your chosen horse and be able to determine whether the horse’s bloodline is as good as the owners or breeders claim it is.

Enlist the Help of a Bloodstock Agent

Your best option when buying a racehorse is the get help from a bloodstock agent. They’re experts in buying and selling thoroughbred horses and they’ll not only help find you a good horse, but do all the negotiations on your behalf.

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