The final instalment of our A-Z of syndicate, club or partnership‐owned horses features a superstar currently in the Top 5 of The Longines World’s Best Racehorse Rankings and Britain’s largest race club’s five Group 1 successes with a certain filly.
R is for Riverside Theatre
Theatre Actor James Nesbitt was only a part‐owner of 2012 Ryanair Chase victor Riverside Theatre, but having given his name to the partnership that owned him, it was only fitting that Nesbitt should end up centre stage.
Nesbitt was eloquent in victory, highlighting the unique charms of horse racing and of ownership, both in the immediate aftermath and when lifting the trophy.
Riverside Theatre looked cooked almost from the start and jumped with the fluency of an elephant for most of the race, but Barry Geraghty just kept pushing and somehow got his mount’s head home in front where it mattered.
“It’s a fantastic sport, this,” said Nesbitt. “It’s far too hard on itself. You’ve got tens of thousands of people here today, from all walks of life, enjoying it and racing needs to embrace that rather than be so laden with worry. It’s easy for me to say that, having just won the Ryanair, but it was a glorious celebration of everything that’s good about sport, not just horse racing.”
S is for Soviet Song
Bred, owned and raced by the Elite Racing Club, Soviet Song more than doubled the membership of what was already Britain’s biggest racing club during a distinguished five‐year racing career when she showed her quality on a regular basis in some of Europe’s best one‐mile and middle‐distance races.
Soviet Song won five Group Ones, over a million pounds in prize money, and was in both 2004 and 2005 the highest‐rated filly anywhere in the world.
Retired to become a broodmare, Soviet Song failed to sparkle as much in her second career as she had in her first and sadly passed away after an illness in 2015.
T is for Tobefair
Trained in the hills east of Carmarthen by Debra Hamer, Tobefair captured the imagination as he ran up a sequence of victories over hurdles last season.
Owned by a syndicate of 17 friends who are regulars at the Cresselly Arms in Cresswell Quay, just outside Pembroke, the pubgoers bought into him for “a bit of fun” but found themselves caught up in a dream when he took them all the way to the Cheltenham Festival last March.
— Great British Racing (@GBRacing) March 15, 2017
Tobefair was a literal gift horse, given to Michael Cole in exchange for nurturing another couple of young horses for a local stud, but Cole ended up selling on shares of various sizes and took them on a fantastic journey that may not be over yet – Tobefair may well return to Cheltenham later this month in a bid to set the record straight after his laboured effort 12 months ago.
U is for Unowhatimeanharry
At the start of new 2015‐16 Jumps racing season, Harry Fry was looking for a vehicle to promote his new training operation and put a new recruit from another yard into the ownership of the Harry Fry Racing Club, a group of supporters of the yard. Nobody could have imagined what would happen with their new flagship.
Having made a winning debut for the stable off a mark of 123, the aptly‐named Unowhatimeanharry also ended up winning his next four races, including the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival. He was sold to JP McManus, and although the Club members could only watch on as he continued to excel as a staying hurdler next season, they’d made a tasty profit and enjoyed an unforgettable journey.
V is for Vibrato Valtat
Somehow, despite having been in training for what seems like about 12 years, Vibrato Valtat is still only nine years old and will hopefully give his owners many more happy days to come.
The grey was quite a slow learner at first for Paul Nicholls, but worked his way up through bumpers and novice events to become a smart handicap hurdler. However, it was over fences that he really made his mark, winning the Henry VIII and three Grade Two contests, taking his Axom syndicate owners to all of the major meetings.
Transferred this season to join Emma Lavelle in search of a revival, Vibrato Valtat continues to look as if he’s not quite putting in the same effort he used to manage in his younger days, but he remains a very popular performer.
W is for Winx
A bending of the rules here with Winx yet to set foot outside of Australia, let alone make it on to a racecourse in Britain. The hope is, though, that Winx, currently the most famous racehorse in the world will show her talents to racegoers here at Royal Ascot in June.
Bred in Australia, Winx was bought by a syndicate of three owners including Debbie Kepitis for AUS$230,000. Winx has since earned more than 60 times her purchase price in prize money and as a broodmare is worth probably more than double that amount again.
The winner of 15 Group Ones, she will soon be back in action at home before a decision over a possible Ascot trip is taken. On a recent visit to London, Kepitis said: “Ascot is awesome. Anyone who enjoys racing wants to go to Ascot, or more specifically Royal Ascot ‐ as a person I can’t get there quick enough, but the question is whether it’s right for Winx.”
X is for X Rated
Okay, it wasn’t easy, but at least in X‐Rated we have a classic racing club horse – sound, honest and ready to give his owners plenty of fun throughout the year. Mark Johnston was one of the first trainers to realise the value in putting owners together into partnerships involving one or more horses in order to boost interest in the yard.
Owned by the Kingsley Park Owners Club, a partnership that has proved highly successful, X Rated has won twice and also made the frame on five other occasions. By the time you read this, he’s due to have been in action again at Newcastle keeping his owners warm in the winter. Don’t bet against a third victory being too far away.
Y is for Ya Malak
Trained by the late ‘Sprint King’, Dandy Nicholls, Ya Malak was owned by a variety of different partnerships during his distinguished sprint career, including by the trainer’s mother‐in‐law.
Ya Malak earned a slice of racing history when dead‐heating for the 1997 Nunthorpe Stakes under Alex Greaves, the first female jockey to ride a Group One winner on the Flat in Britain.
Z is for Ziga Boy
Another representative of Jumps racing specialists Axom (an offshoot of the Elite Racing Club), Ziga Boy was expertly trained by Alan King to land one of the sport’s most valuable handicap chases, the Sky Bet Chase at Doncaster in consecutive years in 2016 and 2017 was only days away from a run in last season’s Grand National when sustaining a serious tendon injury.
Still on an 12‐month rest and recuperation programme, it is hoped that Ziga Boy could return to racecourse action for his patient owners later this year.