Depending on its pedigree, physique and, if it has raced, its performance on the racecourse, a racehorse can cost anything from several thousand to hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of pounds. The typical initial purchase price is around £15,000. Of course, the initial purchase price is just the start; thereafter racehorse owners incur annual costs for training, insurance, veterinary care, registration, entry and transport. According to the British Horseracing Authority (BHA), the annual cost of owning a racehorse is, on average, approximately £23,000 for a horse that races on the Flat and approximately £17,000 for a horse that races under National Hunt Rules.
The prohibitive cost of outright, or sole, ownership is one reason why many British racehorses are owned by syndicates or, in other words, groups of people who band together, under the auspices of a licensed trainer, or syndicate manager, to share the cost of owning one or more horses. Each member of the syndicate owns a small share – typically 2.5%, 5% or 10% – in the syndicated horse(s) and either pays a one-off fee, or an upfront fee, plus ongoing monthly training fees.
The simple answer is no, Aidan O’Brien is not related to the late Michael Vincent O’Brien, but the current ‘Master of Ballydoyle’ has much in common with his predecessor. Indeed, it was Vincent O’Brien who bought Ballydoyle House, in Co. Tipperary in 1951 and, later, along with his son-in-law, John Magnier, and the late Robert Sangster, established what became known as the Coolmore syndicate, for whom Aidan O’Brien has been private trainer since 1996.
Both Aidan and Vincent O’Brien began their training careers in National Hunt racing; both have the distinction of having won the Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival three years running, Aidan with Istabraq in 1998, 1999 and 2000 and Vincent with Hatton’s Grace in 1949, 1950 and 1951. Similarly, both men subsequently rose to become the dominant force in Flat racing, not just in Ireland, but in the whole of Europe and both became Champion Trainer in Britain, despite training on the other side of the Irish Sea.
In the context of horse racing, a multiple bet is a bet in which a single stake is placed on two or more selections, win or each-way, in two or more different races. Any returns from the first selection are staked on the second selection – in the case of an each-way multiple bet, on a win-to-win and place-to-place basis – and so on.
A multiple bet involving two selections in two different events is known as a ‘double’, a multiple bet involving three selections in three different events is known as a ‘treble’ and a multiple bet involving four, or more, selections in four, or more, different events is known as an ‘accumulator’. In each case, all of the selections must win – or, in the case of an each-way multiple bet, at least be placed – in order to generate a return.
However, it is also possible to place a ‘full cover’ combination or permutation bet which, as the name suggests, combines all the multiple bets – that is, doubles, trebles and accumulators – for a certain number of selections. Popular bets of this type include the ‘Yankee’, which combines four selections in six doubles, four trebles and one fourfold accumulator, making 11 bets in total, and the ‘Super Yankee’, or ‘Canadian’, which combines five selections in ten doubles, ten trebles, five fourfold accumulators and one fivefold accumulator, making 26 bets in total.
In horse racing, ‘novice’ is often used in the same sense that it is used elsewhere – that is, to describe a horse that is new to racing, or inexperienced in its selected discipline – but, officially, ‘novice’ has a highly-specific meaning.
Under the Rules of Racing, on the Flat, a novice is any horse that is eligible to run in a novice, novice auction or median auction novice race. What that means, essentially, it that is has won no more than twice and has run no more than twice, unless it has yet to win or is a two-year-old, although it must also satisfy certain other eligibility criteria.
In National Hunt racing, a novice is defined as a horse that has yet to win, in its selected discipline – that is, over hurdles or fences – before the start of the current season. The only caveat is that horses that win one or more races in their selected discipline in the last two months of the National Hunt season ‘proper’ are still regarded as novices, and therefore eligible to run in novice hurdles or novice steeplechases, until the end of the following October.