Tom Dascombe arrived at the table, along with Michael Owen, to join friends Steve Mound and Neil Clyne for some lunch before racing at York one day last August.
Mound and Clyne had become interested in the sport while colleagues, their ‘Working From Home’ days on Fridays turning into ‘Watching Racing From Home’ days more often than they might prefer to be widely‐known.
“Before you say anything, Tom, I’ve just sold half of the horse to Neil,” Mound interrupted.
“Well, we’ve got some good news for both of you then,” replied Owen.
Proschema had at that stage done nothing other than eat into Mound’s finances being a relatively backward two‐year‐old still to make his first appearance on the track.
But Dascombe revealed that the colt had done some work at home with some of the other two‐year‐ olds that strongly suggested he might be above‐average.
Wind the clock forwards by the 15 months to have passed since and two indisputable facts have emerged – firstly that Dascombe’s hunch about Proschema has been proven correct, and secondly that the Empire State Partnership have developed a happy knack for owning only very talented racehorses.
Proschema progressed so quickly this season that he ended up giving Mound, Clyne and their wives Angela and Katie, his four joint‐owners, a day to remember by lining up in the William Hill St Leger.
Far from disgraced in being beaten a dozen lengths into eighth, he then confirmed just what an exciting prospect he is for the future when finishing second in a valuable staying handicap at York off a mark of 105.
Meanwhile, the partnership’s newest horse, Great Scot, has made an even more exciting start to his career for the Empire State Partnership, named because their first horse Dawn’s Early Light (another very smart performer) was a rare son of the stallion Starspangledbanner. Great Scot was bred with Mound and Clyne’s good friend Pete Thompson, out of his cheaply‐bought mare La Rosiere, and the colt’s relatively unfashionable pedigree saw him bought back at the sales last November for just £2,500.
But the advice from the top that Thompson took in breeding La Rosiere on a particular cross to one of Coolmore’s lesser‐known stallions, Requinto, has emphatically paid off.
A winner on his debut at Chester in June despite showing his inexperience from start to finish, Great Scot followed up at Haydock and then finished an unlucky third at Deauville in France in a Listed race, the form of which is working out impressively well.
Then back to Haydock for another Listed contest in bottomless ground on his latest start came Great Scot’s most impressive performance, a dominant display considering the way he had raced too keenly for his own good for a huge chunk of the race, wasting energy with his obvious enthusiasm for racing.
On Saturday, Great Scot tackles Group One company in the Vertem Futurity and a partnership that has only ever owned three horses gets a second chance this year of winning at the highest level in the sport.
“It has been said that I am the luckiest owner alive, but I’ve got a taste for it all now, and we’re already on the look‐out for a second mare to breed from,” Mound told us.
“Neil and I worked together for a number of years in a private equity business and both always enjoyed our racing. Happily, when a sale went through it allowed us both to exit with a level of personal financial stability and that meant I was able to look at fulfilling a dream of owning horses.
“I started off with Manor House Racing as a member of one of his Olympic partnerships in 2011. I think there were 20 shares in five horses that ran during the Olympic year of 2012 and I had one of them.
“It wasn’t the most successful partnership ever. I think only one of the five won a race, but I was hooked. I can’t speak highly enough of the team Tom and Michael have put together and my experiences with the yard have been first‐class.
“As soon as Great Scot arrived in the yard we realised that he was going to be a long‐term prospect, so it’s remarkable what he has already been able to do. He’s a fine specimen, a big strapping lad.
“We thought he would need plenty of time but one day in June one of Tom’s head lads, Andy Jackson, said he thought he was ready for an entry. Tom, I think, was a bit sceptical and said he still had a lot of learn. In a way, they were both right, because although he won that Chester race, he did so despite getting it all wrong on the way round.
“Even now, after three wins from four runs, he’s still a bit of a baby, still learning. But I do hope that racing along a straight mile, going perhaps half a clip faster than he has had to go before in a decent‐ sized field, will only help him.
“I’m not saying he will win, but I can’t help but think he might be a bit shorter in the betting if he was trained by Aidan O’Brien or Sir Michael Stoute.”
However Great Scot gets on against some of the very best juvenile colts in training, 2019 promises to be just as exciting for the group, with Great Scot’s yearling half‐brother about to join Dascombe in training and ambitious plans in store for Proschema.
“Neil’s brother, David, lives in Australia, and when we went to visit him he was kind enough to sort us out with tickets for the Melbourne Cup.
“I’ve told him that when we come back, it might just be with a runner. That’s the dream. The other race that could well be on Proschema’s agenda is the new £1million Sky Bet Ebor.”
It started out as a bit of fun between friends, and what fun it has already been. For the Empire State Partnership, things really do seem to be going up and up.
To find out more information visit ‘shared ownership‘ on the homepage or take a look below and look back at previous syndicate success stories!