Owning a race horse
Thoroughbred racing is, without doubt, the Formula One of equine disciplines. Fast, bold, colourful, it can also be spectacularly rewarding. With a huge range of ownership options, owning a racehorse is a possibility for everyone.
In this section, we'll take you through the steps to becoming a racehorse owner and help bring the dream a little closer. If you already own a racehorse, this is the place you can find information on registering your horse's name or your racing colours, changing ownership details and what to expect on race day.
The great thing about racehorse ownership is that there are many different options available. You can choose an option to suit your level of involvement and your budget. However, there are some rules around who can be an owner. For a start, you must be aged 18 or older, and not be subject to any of the restrictions stated in Rule 411 of the Rules of Racing.
Individual ownership is exactly that. There is only one owner who pays all costs, makes all decisions and enjoys all the rewards. This type of ownership obviously involves the highest individual cost, but also means one person calls all the shots.
There are several types of group ownership.
Partnerships and private syndicates are the most common form of ownership.
Owners share the costs and the fun. Partnerships and syndicates can be formed between anyone - family, friends, workmates, sports teams etc. They can have just a few members, or as many as you like.
If the partnership/syndicate is not managed by a trainer, one of the owners must be nominated as the racing manager. The racing manager liaises directly with the trainer and makes sure all the partners know what's happening with the horse.
In this type of ownership arrangement, it’s a good idea to have a written agreement in place outlining how decisions will be made about the horse, what happens to any prize money or trophies, how disputes will be settled etc. NZTR can provide guidance on what to include in a joint ownership agreement.
Authorised syndicates (public syndication)
Authorised syndicates are another common form of multi-person ownership. Authorised syndicators offer shares in racehorses to members of the public who wish to share in the enjoyment of ownership but may not have an established relationship with a trainer or other prospective owners. These syndicates operate under a set of rules defined in the Rules of Racing and the Financial Markets Authority, which means syndicators must submit a product disclosure statement for approval by NZTR for any horse they are planning on advertising to the public. This disclosure statement outlines items such as upfront and ongoing costs the buyer can expect, any insurance policies, a rough plan for the horse, ie who the trainer is, the distances likely to run etc. The disclosure statement must be accompanied by a syndicate agreement detailing the procedures for naming the horse, distributing trophies and prizemoney, disputes resolution etc. These documents give the potential owner complete transparency and allow them to make an informed decision when buying their horse.
The syndicate manager is responsible for communication between the syndicate members and the trainer, and accounting functions. Their role is pivotal to how the syndicate operates.
Click here to view a list of Authorised Syndicators
Company ownership is also another way to own a racehorse in New Zealand. New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing must approve the company as fit for racing horses. Essentially company shareholders are the owners of the horse or horses.
Appointing a racing manager
If you are part of a syndicate or partnership, or your horse has multiple owners, you must appoint a racing manager. The racing manager is financially responsible for ensuring accounts are paid and liaising directly with the trainer to ensure the owners know what’s happening with the horse. The racing manager acts on behalf of the owners or lessees in all matters relating to the horse. They have authority from all the owners to sign documents relating to the care of the horse, including a change of ownership form. In many cases, the racing manager for the horse may be your trainer or the authorised syndicator you purchased your share from.
Leasing - an alternative to ownership
In New Zealand, you don’t have to buy a horse to enjoy the fun of racehorse ownership. You can also lease rather than buy a horse. Leasing gives people or partnerships the opportunity to race a horse without having buying the horse outright. Essentially, the horse belongs to the lessee (person or partnership or syndicate) for racing purposes. The lessee is responsible for the costs of caring for and racing the horse, and collecting any rewards from racing. Although it’s also common for the lessor to be entitled to a percentage of any prize money won. A formal lease agreement must be lodged with New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing. The terms of each lease can vary, including the right to purchase the horse at a later date.
Owners Federation membership
The New Zealand Racehorse Owners Federation is officially recognised under the Racing Industry Act 2019 and in the Constitution of New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing. Their purpose is to ensure that members are well-informed on topics that are important and relevant to racehorse owners and to promote and safeguard the interests and privileges of Thoroughbred Racehorse Owners