While there’s no denying that the 2017/18 has proved a highly‐successful campaign for some of the sport’s biggest spenders, it isn’t the major players who can look back with pride as the season came to a close this past weekend.
While Gigginstown and JP McManus end the campaign with as the owners of the biggest earners in the shape of Tiger Roll and Buveur D’Air, the 10 members of the Knot Again Partnership, a group of Nicky Henderson’s friends and previous owners in the yard who between them share Might Bite, can once again look back with pride.
Grade One victories at Kempton and Aintree, coupled with his courageous second to Native River in the Gold Cup, saw his career earnings go crashing through the half‐million‐pound mark and still only a nine‐year‐old, there’s every chance his connections can enjoy at least another season or two at the top table.
Native River. Colin Tizzard. Richard Johnson.
— CheltenhamRacecourse (@CheltenhamRaces) March 16, 2018
Having enjoyed a brilliant Flat Season in 2017, the Elite Racing Club maintained their successful streak with the admirable Elgin, one of just a couple of jumpers that the Club keep among the team.
Having won twice as a novice hurdler last season, Elgin looked to have reached his level, but instead he has returned during this campaign better than ever. Having taken a valuable handicap at Ascot in November, he followed up in the ultra‐competitive Greatwood at Cheltenham just a fortnight later.
Things then reached a new level when he took the Grade Two Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton and having been supplemented into the line‐up for the Champion Hurdle at the Festival, he recouped much of that outlay by finishing in a creditable fifth place.
— Racing UK (@Racing_UK) February 17, 2018
With Alan King now looking at a possible Flat campaign for Elgin, the six‐year‐old should give his owners plenty more fun over the months ahead.
Even some of the famous of the sport’s owners recognise the attraction of getting involved in partnerships or groups, sharing the fun and dividing the cost.
The dark blue, light blue stars and red sleeves colours shared between aviation company boss Graham Brooks, television personality Jeremy Kyle and well‐known leading owner and financier Andy Stewart and their respective families have been seen throughout the season to great effect.
Brooks, a longstanding friend of Stewart, was persuaded to join in the partnership as his first venture into racehorse ownership and the decision has paid off handsomely with Old Guard and Black Corton both performing with distinction during the winter.
Old Guard took the Grade Two National Spirit Hurdle at Fontwell and a big handicap at Newbury’s Ladrokes Winter Carnival meeting, while the admirable Black Corton supplied Bryony Frost with her first Grade One success when striking in Kempton’s Kauto Star Novices’ Chase.
Also celebrating a first Grade One this season was trainer Fergal O’Brien, the feat being achieved by Poetic Rhythm and the ever‐popular Yes No Wait Sorries syndicate in Newbury’s Betfred Challow Hurdle.
Poetic Rhythm gives Fergal O’Brien his first Grade One success in the Betfred Challow Novices’ Hurdle in the #RUKMomentOfTheDay
— Racing UK (@Racing_UK) December 30, 2017
Indeed, there will be further celebrations still to come on the back of that success with the victory having been voted as the ‘Moment Of The Season’ by Newbury’s racegoers, earning the prize of a party in a box at the racecourse for the owners and stable staff at one of the course’s Flat evening fixtures this summer.
Of course, at a slightly lower level, there have been numerous other success stories – perhaps one involving a horse that you or a friend or family member have an involvement in. Registering even one victory as a part‐owner can be a truly awesome feeling if you’ve been waiting for it for years.
And it is those small successes that play such a big part even in the biggest stables. For example, with over 150 winners, this has been Dan Skelton’s most successful season as a trainer, but many of the horses who contributed to that tally have teams of owners.
The likes of the BGC Racing, Rio Gold, Royale Racing and Winter Gold partnerships have all celebrated success with relatively cheaply‐bought horses in the stable and with so many opportunities in summer jumping these days, it’s certain there will be many more winners to be cheered home by happy groups of owners in the weeks and months ahead as the new National Hunt campaign gets underway.