What keeps owners in racing when 60% of horses fail to win a race?

Many in racing believe owners deserve a reasonable chance of recouping a worthwhile percentage of costs. Some contend that fair recompense is vital in keeping owners in the sport.

But if we are to judge from the behaviour of owners, then prize money means little to them as an incentive.

Owners with a structured plan for making racing pay, the Godolphins and Coolmores, realise that prize money is the jam; the bread and butter is stud fees. Other high rollers like JP and Andy Stewart are in it for the love of the sport. But such ‘wealthy individuals’ make up only a tiny percentage of owners in the UK. The ones who really need ‘fair’ prize money to keep them in the game are those who cannot play at the highest levels, right?

Maybe not . . .

In the UK, in the 56 months from January 1st 2007 until August 31st 2011, 47,175 horses raced for total win prize money of just under £294m.

58.75% of horses failed to win a single race.

3% of horses won 34% of total win prize money (Group/Listed race winners) sharing £101m, a slice of which would have gone overseas.

Those who probably needed it least as an incentive shared more than a third of win prize money. Of the remaining cash, 59% of horses won nothing of it for their owners.

So, if prize money is not the incentive for the owners of 61% of horses, is it likely that the remaining 39% view it differently? (Only 13% of horses in that 56 month period won three races or more).

However much The Horsemen might bluster, campaign and boycott, the stats say that most owners do not expect prize money to compensate them for indulging their hobby.

I’m grateful to Weatherbys for supplying the figures

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