“A hobby that got out of hand” was the description Tim Palin once famously gave of the Middleham Park Racing syndicates that he first established in the mid‐1990s. They might just as accurately be known as one of the most successful and pioneering racing syndicates in the sport in Britain.
Palin started out with one horse and a few friends. Earlier this week Middleham Park reached a remarkable milestone when El Kaldoun became the 1000th winner in the light blue and orange silks that have become such a well‐recognised sight at racecourses up and down the country.
Related to loads of winners, El Kaldoun gets off to the perfect start for @sevenbarrows at @LingfieldPark. “A really nice horse and still a big baby; I think they think a bit of the second so perhaps the form will work out, “says @NdeBoinville. 1000 winners for @MprUpdates! pic.twitter.com/lSOynOSpDM
— At The Races (@AtTheRaces) November 27, 2018
Palin brought on board partner Mike Prince when Middleham Park was still in its relative infancy, but the operation has continued to expand and develop in recent years, with Palin’s son Tom also now on the team as Bloodstock and National Hunt manager.
“It’s probably not a big surprise that my earliest memories are of going racing or to the stables,” Tom tells us. “Both Mum and Dad were teachers and I’d probably have ended up being a teacher myself if it hadn’t been for racing.
“I went to university and graduated in Sports Marketing and Public Relations, but several years ago Dad asked if I could just help him out for a day or two by sending out a few emails, and I seem to have been busy ever since – not that I would have it any other way because it’s a job I love!”
With many high‐profile successes among the 1000 victories and an ever‐growing band of racing fans enjoying their first taste of success as an owner with Middleham Park, there are no shortage of stories to choose from that raise a smile, but for Tom Palin some particular moments stand out.
“Toormore’s victory in the 2013 National Stakes at The Curragh will always take some beating,” he explains. “We’re no strangers to having runners in big races but he was an even‐money favourite for a Group 1 and there was plenty of pressure. Dad, Mike and I flew out together with the owners and it was an unforgettable experience to watch him come home clear under Richard Hughes.”
Toormore was placed in a number of Group races the following season before being sold to Godolphin, for whom he carried on to perform consistently for the rest of his career.
“Another particularly special moment for me was a horse called Annunciation, who was the first horse Dad allowed me to buy at the sales. He won a couple of races at two, but the best day for his owners and I came when he won the Shergar Cup Sprint at Ascot under Gary Stevens, who was a bit of an idol of mine.
“It wasn’t just that he won, but it was the way he did it – he was stone last for most of the way and still had about six lengths to find at the furlong‐pole but flew home to get up by a short‐head under an unbelievably cool ride.”
Syndicating horses for jumps racing has been a relatively new move for Middleham Park and Palin has been at the forefront, with the syndicate’s landmark winner El Kaldoun, trained by Nicky Henderson, among those for whom Middleham Park owners have most hope for the months ahead.
“We’ve been building our National Hunt team up for about five years ago now and touching wood, as we move into December, all of our team are in good shape for what will hopefully be a long season ahead.
“Divine Spear was ante‐post favourite for a race at the Cheltenham Festival and although he didn’t get there, he still has time on his side. We have just entered him for the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup at Cheltenham in December and I know Mr Henderson thinks a great deal of him.
— Ascot Racecourse (@Ascot) December 22, 2017
“Captain Woodie is a very exciting horse, who was two from three in his bumpers and was in among them in the pecking order at Seven Barrows. He’s back working now and hopefully he will return to the track in January.
“Whether El Kaldoun goes hurdling or stays in bumpers for a campaign that might see him end up at the Festival is being decided at the moment, but he’s by an up‐and‐coming sire who has a few interesting jumpers and hopefully he could turn out to give his shareholders a lot of fun in the future.”
Shares in all Middleham Park‐owned horses are available from 2.5% upwards. More information is available at www.middlehamparkracing.net