That winning feeling snares a new owner

Regular readers will recall that a few weeks back I managed to tick off one of my (slightly random) bucket list items, by sponsoring a race.

What I neglected to mention in that blog-post was that I had a tiny share in a runner in said race.  In line with my grandmother’s rule of not photographing the horse before the race, I decided not to tempt fate and draw attention to the fact.

In a dream result the horse won.  Well, she didn’t just win she fulfilled the age old riding instructions of going to the front, increasing her lead and kicking away on the turn.

How often does that happen – you sponsor a race, your horse (well, one in which you share the ownership with a cast of many) lines up in it and wins?

Needless to say the presentation was memorable!

Part of my sponsorship gig included being able to invite a few guests to enjoy the day so I used it as an opportunity to catch up with number two son (purely primogeniture, not a preference thing) and his girlfriend.

Being a little more fast and loose with his money than his more careful older brother, this one actually had a TAB account.  I use the past tense intentionally. He had an account which during a short period he used regularly – predominantly betting on horses. The interest faded and once he forgot his account password he couldn’t be bothered going through the drama (when you’re in your 20s everything is a drama!) of getting that sorted.

Now both kids were brought up in the same house where, in their very early years, their mother occasionally graced the screen on Trackside.  The younger one did accompany me (while very tiny) on the occasional shoot back when Trackside did more personality pieces. Whereas for a short time the older one used to have (one-sided) conversations with George Simon whenever he appeared on screen.

As they grew older they would apologise to any friends coming over on a Saturday, telling them not to worry if their mother suddenly started yelling at the TV.

Once they were old enough they were then roped into race day tasks, such as selling race books, at the Taupo summer races. Plenty of exposure to racing then, but other than being able to read form-guides and being familiar with the odd racing term it hasn’t really stuck with either of them.

It didn’t surprise me that neither developed the same passion I have for racing.  After all, I grew up in the same household as my four siblings where our exposure to racing was considerably more hands-on.  We rode racehorses and helped out at the stables (with varying degrees of commitment) yet, only my Singapore-based brother is remotely interested in going racing and following the form.

I took actually getting number two son to the races as a major achievement.

What I hadn’t reckoned on though, was how the day would appear to him and the impact it would make.

They arrived and joined us at our table in the sponsors’ room and liked that they could venture out from the room to watch the race.  They had easy access to totes and only moderate queues. So far, so good.

Pre-race, wearing my owner’s hat, my fellow syndicate members and I took them down to the pre-race hospitality where they could get a close-up view of our pride and joy.  Then it was back to the stand and out to watch the race.

I’ve often said that if you could bottle the feeling you get when you have a winner then you would make a fortune.  That day though, I think some of it rubbed off on my boy. He witnessed the elation up-close and live.

The race aftermath was a blur as we all (including number two son) were whisked out for the photo with our winner (this time wearing two hats as sponsor and part-owner); then upstairs for a presentation like no other!

I should have had an idea of what was coming when the son began asking whether the same things happened everywhere your horse raced, were there always pre-race drinks, the post-race photo and celebrations.

Two days after the race he rang asking how he could go about getting into a horse.

So, after completing all the necessary paperwork he now shares my share in the horse which lit the ownership fire and, this weekend he will have his first runner – the fourth generation of his family to do so.

Of course, he will soon learn that it is not all champagne and celebrations!


Footnote: Like most of those involved in the industry I have been carefully perusing the papers released by Racing Minister Winston Peters the other week and I am hopeful that we will soon see some of the changes we have been wanting for so long.  Such was my optimism when the MAC report and the cabinet papers were released that I signed up for another share in another horse, I am hoping my optimism is not misplaced.