How did you get into ownership?
I am from a farming family and was brought up with pointers and my father had a permit. I rode ponies from a young age.
As I got older my interest in racing grew and I decided that I would like to have a go at race riding as an amateur. I also became more involved in training the pointers at home and started to develop a keen interest in pedigrees which grew when I spent time as assistant trainer to Donald McCain. After leaving Donald’s, I did the trainers’ course which led to me gaining a licence to train professionally. I had also started pin-hooking and buying some fillies to race and potentially to breed from.
We had a fair bit of success with the training with limited resources and I went into it with my eyes firmly open knowing that it is a tough business. The bloodstock side of the business was growing well so we decided to concentrate solely on my business Peel Bloodstock.
I am also involved in running a couple of syndicates, FB Racing Club (Stormy Ireland) and a micro share syndicate called Topspeed Thoroughbreds. FB Racing Club was formed by myself, David Greenway and Ross Alberto, we are equal partners in the parent company, Future Bloodstock, which was set up to buy broodmares with a view to selling the stock and keeping a few fillies to race and breed from. We share a love of the sport and our interest goes deeper than just buying a horse to race.
Dave and I have known each other all our lives. Dave’s grandfather Ted Greenway was a renowned vet and was vet to Ginger McCain in the Red Rum days; he was credited by Ginger for his work especially with Red Rum and getting him to the Grand National five times!
The two of us met Ross on a stag do in Verbier and subsequently formed a racing syndicate called Lost In 1936 (the bar we were in was called 1936). It was a struggle, the first horse won for us before sustaining a career-ending injury at Cheltenham and the second horse we had was very disappointing. We weren’t getting what we wanted hence we formed Future Bloodstock together. We now have three broodmares in the company, Limini in foal to Nathaniel, Shanning (half-sister to Allaho) in foal to No Risk At All, and Bright Approach in foal to Farhh.
What was your best day at the races?
I have had some memorable days on the racecourse as a rider, trainer and owner. My best day was probably my first day with a training licence when my first two runners both won at Sedgefield and the third one finished third. My now wife Sara also agreed to go out with me that day too!
That was the best day until Stormy Ireland won the Relkeel Hurdle at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day with all the family and friends there. It was made even more memorable because when Stormy won the Grade 2 at Fairyhouse and then the Grade 1 at Punchestown it was during lockdown so we could not attend. Dave had lost his brother Tom, who was a former jockey, a couple of months previously, and this added to the emotion on the day, very special!
Biggest drawback for an owner?
Costs of purchasing and training a racehorse are very expensive which means a lot of people cannot afford to own a horse outright which is where shared ownership and syndicates and clubs are brilliant. What can also be frustrating for an owner is the difficulty in planning to see your horses run especially if you are working. Booking the time off work with no guarantee that the horse will run due to ground, weather, declarations etc can be very frustrating.
The worst thing is the down days, disappointments, injuries and God forbid loss of a horse.
Which racecourse in Ireland treats owners the best and why?
Being based in England I’ve not been to too many courses in Ireland. I went to the Galway Festival about 10 years ago in a group of seven lads not as owners! I cannot remember much about the trip and what I can I cannot say here ... great craic! I have been to Fairyhouse a couple of times now. I was there in a training capacity a few years ago with a horse called Alpha Victor in the Irish Grand National. We were looked after superbly, the atmosphere and the whole occasion was epic and I would love to go back again one day. I have to say ITM do an amazing job too.
Flat or jumps, which do you prefer?
Jumps racing! The horses and the people involved do it for the love, the passion for jumps racing. The affinity people have for the horses probably due to their longevity compared to their flat counterparts is wonderful to see.
What do you look for in a trainer?
One that trains winners ... joking aside it is very important that trainers keep owners up to date and well informed. Being involved in running a few syndicates this is particularly important to keep members valued and entertained.
How do you think the current crisis will impact on racing?
Prices of horses have held up remarkably well. People have travelled less and have spent more money at home on the things they love. Racing was on TV every day during lockdown and gave many an interest and something to follow.
What can trainers or HRI do to encourage owners to keep horses?
The prize money in Ireland is much better than in Britain but there is also less racing and the races are more competitive. Race planning possibly? In the case of Stormy Ireland because she won a Grade 1 race last season it meant that she could not contest any of the mares’ Grade 2 races in Ireland which led to her having to go to Cheltenham and look how that turned out, so I can’t complain too much.
Significance of your colours?
Dave and Ross are big fans of pink!
Buying horses what do you look for?
An athlete with a good temperament.
Horses you have in training?
FB Racing Club has Stormy Ireland and an unraced filly called Fishcake who is a Mahler half-sister to Monkfish in training with Nicky Henderson. Topspeed has got horses with various trainers flat and jumps including Walk In The Storm who is a Walk In The Park half-sister to Tornado Flyer who won a bumper at Newcastle last weekend.
What’s next on the agenda?
I think Stormy will go straight to Cheltenham for the Mares’ Hurdle as there are very few other options for her before then. We did buy her originally to breed from so whether we put her in foal this year or next is a decision we have not quite made just yet. She has more than paid for herself which is extremely rare. She owes us nothing and we are so grateful for what she has given already!
Young horses to look forward to?
Yes, the filly in pre-training with me here on the farm in Cheshire called Shaving, she is a big scopey filly. We also own Limini and she has a lovely two-year-old filly by Australia who will be coming into work next month.
What do you do with your racehorses when their racing days are over?
The fillies and mares may be good enough to become broodmares. We have always managed to find nice homes for other horses in the past. We still have some on the farm here too that are retired or we use them to help educate the younger horses. After care is of huge importance to us as a business.
What advice would you give to someone thinking of becoming an owner?
Understand what it is they are getting involved in and the reasons why. It is the most amazing sport and and is fun and social with great people. Any success and prize money is a bonus. The bad days make the good days even greater!