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Supreme shambles means syndicates need more regulation


WILL HOFFMANN looks at the mess that Supreme Horse Racing Club has got itself into, and believes sheer greed has been the trigger to explain why shares have been oversold.

Ireland is famous for its intimacy. It’s a small enough nation that you’re only ever about one step removed from one of its famous citizens. Everybody knows somebody who knows Conor McGregor’s aunt or Padraig Harrington’s brother. Everybody knows somebody who owns a bit of Kemboy. Heck, given the murkiness of the case, it could easily be that everybody thinks that they themselves own a bit of Kemboy.

Rich Ricci, one of the shrewder owners in the game, had a policy where his horses had to pay their way in prize money but that the initial, often six-figure, upfront cost was written off. None but the luckiest of owners will turn a profit on the game, with prize-money at a relative low and training costs of £20,000 a year or more.

Supreme spotted a loophole

Supreme Horse Racing Club has long benefited from the fact that racing is fundamentally a loss-making endeavour. They’ve had some very good horses over the year and, whilst they would have had to pay out chunks of prize money to the part-owners, the upfront cost and training fees meant that this was simply a cost of doing business. In the long run, the chief beneficiary – at least financially – from the syndicate is whoever is running said syndicate.

“If the rumours are to be believed, horses were oversold to the tune of several hundred per cent”

With that in mind, what appears to have happened in the case of Supreme Horse Racing Club is greed on behalf of those organising it. They’ve realised that, because the cost of buying the horse and keeping it in training would outweigh any potential prize money, they could get away with over-selling the shares in their horses.

I don’t know the precise figures but, if the rumours are to be believed, horses were oversold to the tune of several hundred per cent. Owners were unlikely to meet each other and, where they did, it would have taken a shrewd mind to put two and two together and realise that they’d been duped.

And then came Kemboy

This was all well and good until Kemboy came along. With Grade one victories at Aintree and Punchestown seeing prize money of nearly £300k, the syndicate managers have found the shit finally hitting the fan with part-owners expecting to be in receipt of some quite serious cash.

Depending on how oversold Kemboy was, they were probably looking at having to pay out high-six-figure sums. Either not fancying that or, more likely not being able to do so, Supreme Horse Racing Club has come to a shuddering halt. After receiving no communication from them, The HRI have banned the club from owning racehorses in Ireland and, for now, their future on the racecourse is in some doubt.

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It looks increasingly unlikely that owners are going to receive the share they believed they had in Kemboy and, given the legal complexities of property ownership, this will probably turn into a legal matter.  Being of a libertarian mindset, I rarely think further regulation is desirable, but this could be a rare exception. The codes of conduct surrounding syndicates, both in the UK and Ireland, were pretty lax and these look likely to be tightened up considerably. The BHA has already announced a review into the rules and you’d expect Ireland to follow suit.

Whilst it won’t do anything to resolve the Kemboy situation, these circumstances will perhaps have a net positive in the long run. People will be more aware of the dangers of syndicate ownership, the rules will be tightened and it should ensure that “bad” syndicates are weeded out.

Saturday selections

And finally on to our Saturday selections (and thank goodness they are racing at Cheltenham tomorrow). The Last Day was a welcome winner for this blog last week, and we have two more chasers up our sleeve.

In the 1.50, Ramses De Teillee looks to be peaking this year. He posted a superb return over hurdles here in bottomless ground, breaking the clock and beating a smart sort in The Butcher Said. Always a better chaser than a hurdler, a mark of 153 could well be lenient on the back of that and I have a feeling he could develop in a pattern class horse come the end of the season. This would be the obvious stepping-stone and I thought 9/4 or bigger was worth taking.

Colin Tizzard has managed to rejuvenate several of his disappointing horses this year, and Slate House (BetVictor Gold Cup) was chief amongst these. He too won easily at Cheltenham in a very good time for the grade, a particularly swift number from three out confirming that he was well treated off 135. Unfortunately, the handicapper hasn’t missed this and he’s now running off a somewhat loftier 147. Even so, I clocked that effort in the low 150s and he could easily come on again for that effort.

There are a number of interesting horses in the race but few who look obviously well-treated off their marks. You rather suspect that this was the plan for Team Tizzard and, despite being favourite, I still thought he was worth a bet at 5/1.

Advised bets: 1.50 Cheltenham. Back Ramses De Teillee at 9/4 or bigger 2.25 Cheltenham. Back Slate House at 5/1 or bigger

Will Hoffmann writes regular racing previews on a Friday evening for Betconnect. November is COMMISSION-FREE on racing for Betconnect Pros. Get online now!

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