Horses in gold

Horses in gold

10 December 2015

Théo Siffrein-Blanc signs a nice article for PLURIS magazine on horse racing in France and the development of different form of ownership.

" Increased prize money, an influx of foreign investors, the race to buy thoroughbreds: Thoroughbred racing is a billion euro industry.
It is hard to measure the scale of the stakes involved in the racing industry. In the media, equestrian sports are overshadowed by other major sports such as football, rugby or athletics. Yet with 60,000 spectators, 1 billion viewers in over 45 countries, €5 million in prize money and €28 million in bets, a race such as the Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, organised by France Galop and the Qatar Racing and Equestrian Club (QREC), posts dizzying figures.
Comparisons with other major sporting events are telling. The richest race in the world on turf offers 2.86 million euros to the winner, ie more than the 2.62 million won by the Wimbledon men's singles winner in 2015, even though that was the record prizemoney in the history of tennis. 1 billion viewers, that is as many as the final of the 2014 football World Cup, the most followed event in sport history and 40 times as many as the Grand Prix de Monaco (25 million in 2015).

The arrival of new investors is not unrelated to the growing interest of spectators for horseracing. When in 2008 the Emir of Qatar entered a partnership with the Equestrian Club to organise the Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, prizemoney more than doubled. Not content with sponsoring the most famous race in the world, the Qataris now head the whole of the French racing industry. They invest in breeding yearlings – horses with the finest pedigrees, descending from the best racehorses – and light up the sales rings, spurred on by their greatest rival, Dubai's Sheikh Mohammed Al Maktoum. The latter had the last word and broke the sales records for a thoroughbred when buying a future racehorse for €2.6 million at Deauville in August this year, in the prestigious Elie-de-Brignac sales complex, the temple for yearling auctions since the 19th century.


However, the sociology of racehorse owners is changing. Far from being the preserve of the old aristocracy or new rich foreigners, purchasing racehorses is becoming more democratic. A new law has changed everything: it stipulates that the number of shareholders for one single horse can now be unlimited whereas it used to be limited to 10 owners. Inspired by this syndicate model, which is very widespread in England and in Australia, companies like Arqana are offering co-ownership in ready-made syndicates from as little as just a few hundred or thousand euros.

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