Features | 10th May 2024

Owning a racehorse has turned eight mates from the North East into overnight TV stars – as well as forging friendships that will last a lifetime.

The Muffed Punt Partnership is the subject of a new feature length documentary, available on ITV X and charting their trials and tribulations with bargain basement Flat horse Showtime Mahomes.

It’s Showtime’ not only reflects on the success of the Grant Tuer-trained gelding on the racetrack but also spotlights the close bond of friendship that has developed between the syndicate, who are all regulars at the Railway Athletic Club in Darlington.

“It’s been unbelievable,” says syndicate member Anth Freeman. “The reaction has been incredible. We’ve become local celebrities in the North East and everyone wants to talk to us about it when we go racing.”

When pals Anth, Kev, Baz, Jeff, Ste, Dog, Nick and Mike all clubbed together to buy the chestnut for £8,000 after a few pints at the club, none of them could have imagined the impact he would have on their lives.

“The whole experience with Showtime has enabled us to live the dream as racing fans but has also taught us to share emotions and problems, as well as laughter and banter, which really comes out in the programme,” adds Anth.

“Some of us have faced some difficult personal challenges. I have a severely autistic son who is non-verbal and Mike lost both his wife and his mum in quick succession. It’s brought us closer together as mates. We’ve supported each other in lots of ways and the bond between us is all down to Showtime.”

Tuer, who trains the horse at Birkby in North Yorkshire, adds: “I met the lads by chance when I took part in a Cheltenham Festival preview night at their club. Soon after that I bought the horse and it’s been a pleasure to train for them.

“The documentary was filmed over 18 months so it gives a real insight into the friendships that have developed between the lads, which is heart-warming. It shows that getting involved in a syndicate with like-minded people can change your life, no matter how successful you are on the track.

“It’s an escape from daily life for these lads, giving them something to look forward to, and that’s the beauty of syndicates like theirs,” says Tuer.

Anth and his mates are keen American Football fans whose syndicate name is derived from a term used in the sport, and Showtime is named after Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes.

The son of Dabirsim has won three times for the syndicate since finishing second on his first two starts as a two-year-old, the highlight being a win over six furlongs at York in his second season almost two years ago.

Now the Muffed Punt Partnership may have a candidate for a sequel with latest acquisition Mr Irrelevant (a term used for the last remaining player in the College football drafts) who has won back-to-back races at Ripon and Doncaster for Tuer and will attempt to emulate Showtime by winning at York this season.

The documentary is available now on ITV X.