I recently wrote an article for G1X Racing about the Value in Patience when it comes to the racing industry, thought I would share a condensed version.
A wise man once said that “the cheapest thing in racing is patience but it is the least used”- a quote that is often referred to within the industry and possibly because it was made by one of the greats in the industry that definitely knows a thing or two about training race horses, it was none other than Legendary Trainer and King of the Melbourne Cup- Bart Cummings.
Most outsiders to the industry simply only see the excitement and the thrills that come with winning on race day or enjoying in the excitement of having a runner on a race day. What they don’t understand is all the hard work that goes into getting a horse to the races and just how important it is for all connections to have patience.
I am a very patient person and at times racing horses has at times tested my patience levels. It is important to remember that if you do make the decision to get into the racing industry then you need to make sure that you have a lot of patience.
Typically, people who invest into race horses will purchase a share in a Yearling from one of the many sales (kicking off with the Gold Coast Magic Millions). Patience is required here because as a Yearling (12 months old), the wait of getting to the race track can be a long one. For at least a year, the horse will spend a lot of time in the paddock to allow it to continue to develop and grow. The Trainer will then at a suitable time likely send the horse to a pre-training facility to prepare the horse for life in a racing stable. Now every trainer is different, some young horses first stable preparation is purely an educational one getting them used to life in the stable before being sent back out to the paddock to have a break.
Once the horse is ready to have a full preparation in the stable, the trainer may target a trial or even a race for you horse. This of course is also dependent on the horse providing that it can remain injury free. For those horses that require more time, the patience switch will need to be flicked as it will mean more time to pass before finally seeing your horse line up in a race.
Breaking the Elusive Maiden
Finally, your horse has it’s race name and racing colours (most likely the syndication companies if you have gone down that path). You get an email from the trainer advising that they have found a race for your steed, you organise the day off work and for ladies we begin to organise the outfit (gotta make sure it looks good for the winning photo).
It is important to remember that not every horse will break its maiden on the first start (if only we could have our own Black Caviar), it may take time for a horse to break the maiden or more commonly referred to in the industry as “getting the monkey off its back”. I have been fortunate enough to have horses break the maiden status within the first few starts and I have also had my patience extremely tested with my boy Ravitude- it took 15 starts and waiting a total of over 2 years for him to get the monkey off his back.
For most, they would have opted to sell their share or the entire horse (if you own it outright) because you are simply spending more money than you are making off the investment, however, for those that wait out the ride the reward eventually comes. There have been horses that are more well known that have taken longer to break the status as well, it truly is a test of patience. I can only describe the feeling of putting Ravi’s winning photo on the wall as an emotional one and I can confirm that I have watched the video snippet so many times and it still brings a tear to my eye- it is a moment that will also mean a lot to me, knowing I never lost my patience and finally was rewarded.
Returning from Injury
The other time when your patience as a racehorse owner is likely to be tested is in the unfortunate event that you horse has an injury. There are some injuries that will heal quicker than others and will see your horse on the sidelines for only a few weeks however, there are others that will see your horse out for months.
Again I have had my patience tested in this area as well, when you have belief in your horses’s ability you want to ride out the wait in the hopes that they will return better. One of my horses had what some may say is a common injury, bone chips. Watching the last run of my girl anyone with experience could tell that something was seriously wrong, the vet report then come through to confirm the news that there was a bone chip in her knee. With bone chips the only solution is to operate, meaning extensive period on the sidelines- we were advised a total of 16 weeks.
Most of the owners decided that this was simply too long of a wait, while others decided that we would keep our faith and wait out the time. Over that time she had grown more and was showing signs that was over the injury. She then headed back into the trainers stable and was impressing in her track work and trials, for the owners that waited the ride we were excited that our girl had come back in great shape.
Before long we were back at the race track and making our anticipated return to racing, coming off the back of impressive trials we were confident- however, on both race occasions the heart sank as she had returned not as the horse that we knew. She had mental scars that had not been healed and as soon as any pressure was applied she would just stop racing. As crushing as it was, I had made the decision it was time to walk away. As an ownership group we all decided that it was time to retire her as she simply had the race taken out of the racehorse- without that she is a horse.
Now she is living her new life with an owner that loves her very much. Just goes to show that if I waited this long then it confirms that the patience I have is endless.
Hopefully this gives an insight into needing patience in the industry and this is only from an owner’s perspective, you have to feel for those who directly invest the time into the horses- Trainers, Jockey’s, Track work Riders, Agistment properties, Pre-trainers etc. So before buying into that nice looking yearling that you see, consider your level of patience and ask yourself- ” Do I have enough patience?” if the answer is no then don’t sign the paperwork but if you want to experience thrills and excitement, along with rewards for patience then fill in the paperwork and enjoy the ride!
To read my full article, click on the link below.