AP McCoy rode my horse to victory!

AP McCoy, the greatest jump jockey ever, celebrated riding an incredible 4,000 winners recently and I'm proud to say one of those wins came on board a horse I owned at the time! Well, owned is a bit of an exaggeration, part-owned is more accurate and, if you want to be pedantic, my share was 5%. In other words, slightly less than a quarter of a leg.

The horse was Golden Dream and at Bangor-on-Dee on 19 August 2011, after looking beaten at the last, AP delivered one of his trademark finishes to get the horse home in front.

No matter that I only owned 5%, it still gave me the opportunity to meet my hero AP McCoy, discuss tactics with him before the race, then celebrate together in the winner’s enclosure afterwards. 

Well, it would have done if I hadn't been on a cruise ship in the middle of the Adriatic at the time with my wife Sally! Instead of cheering on Golden Dream at the track we had to listen to the race commentary on my mobile phone. And it wasn't easy when you consider that it was being relayed from my colleague Daniel's phone, which he was holding next to the speaker of his computer, tuned into the William Hill website.

I had mixed emotions, delight at the victory but deep regret at not being there with my brother Ashley - also a 5% shareholder - to enjoy the success. It probably ranks as both the highlight and lowlight of my career in racing ownership to date!

I never thought I'd ever become involved in owning a racehorse. It's not known as the 'Sport of Kings' for nothing, after all! But the advent of racing clubs and syndicates has made it more affordable with packages available to suit every budget. I took my first steps into ownership with my brother in 2010 when we joined Koos Racing Club and took a share in a horse called Bring Sweets. Since then, in many respects, we've been incredibly lucky. Many owners wait years to experience the thrill of winning and quite a lot never do but within three months Bring Sweets had managed to win a race for us  at Southwell. Unfortunately, for various reasons neither of us was there to see it and that proved to be the last win of Bring Sweets' career. He was eventually sold and we took shares in Golden Dream instead which, as well as winning at Bangor, also won a race for us at Uttoxeter. Unfortunately, I missed this too because of an important client meeting! Can you spot the recurring theme?

Golden Dream did help me fulfil one of my dreams by running in a race at Wetherby, my favourite track, but that was his last race for us. Our next horse was called Taxi des Obeaux, trained by Phil Kirby at Middleham. Unfortunately, Taxi gave us our first experience of the downsides of racehorse ownership. On his hurdling debut at Sedgefield he unseated his jockey at the very first hurdle. Then, in his second race he damaged a tendon, which meant a year off and some expensive vet’s bills. On his comeback he only managed three races before succumbing to a similar injury at which point we made the difficult decision to let him spend the rest of his days in happy retirement.

Undeterred and ever optimistic, some might say stupid, our next equine investment was in a horse named King’s Grey. Kings Grey had already won several races and was reaching the twilight of his racing career but we had a 12 month plan to qualify him to run in a big race at Aintree’s Grand National meeting. All he had to do was finish in the first three in one of his preparatory races. What’s more, he was going to race in my own racing colours, which would be another of my dreams fulfilled. Unfortunately, that was as good as it got because despite running well in the first half of his races he quickly ran out of puff and was pulled up before the finish each time. Unbeknown to us he had a breathing problem which led to another premature retirement and another broken dream!

For now, my love affair with racehorse ownership is undergoing a trial separation. I’ve enjoyed the highs and lows and who knows whether we will get back together again at some time in the future but whatever happens I will always be able to boast that “AP McCoy, the greatest jockey ever, rode my horse to victory!”   

Written by Steve Clark, 14/07/2017