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Investing in horse racing in Singapore: Is it a safe bet?

By: Richard Lenton (interview: Rebecca Bisset)

During a 16-year media career, I’ve managed to strictly adhere to one of the fundamental commandments of journalism; namely to never, ever work with children or animals.

Until I invested in a couple of rescue kittens two years ago in a desperate attempt to dilute my other half’s maternal instincts, I’d never even owned a pet. Therefore, a trip to a far-flung corner of Singapore to try and successfully negotiate a front cover photoshoot with Wade Burridge of Premier Racing Partnerships and a strapping stallion was a daunting one. The only time I’ve ever jumped aboard a horse was during my primary school days; the ageing grey went by the name of Fleur, but she took an instant dislike to this particular cheeky chappie and sent me careering through the air after performing the type of movement I’d only even seen on the board game Buckaroo. Good judge of character was Fleur.

 golden rabbit

Thankfully, Expat Living owner Rebecca Bisset came along for the long ride to Singapore Turf Club at Kranji, and, as an experienced horse-rider, she was able to take charge of the situation and ensure that everything ran smoothly. She even insisted on interviewing Wade, which meant that I could chew the fat with the stable-hands to try and bag myself a few dead-cert tips…

 wade burridge

Rebecca: When and why did you first get involved in racing?
Wade: I’ve been involved in racing from the day I was born. My father Steven Burridge was a jockey who rode over 1100 winners. He was in Melbourne first and went on to ride in Mauritius, Malaysia, Macau and Singapore. My grandfather Gary Lee was a successful trainer in New Zealand and then in Victoria when he moved to Australia.

I believe racing is in the blood. I always loved going to the races throughout my childhood and teen life. But it wasn’t until I turned 21 that I wanted to be professionally involved. I applied for a scholarship at the world-renowned Marcus Oldham College in Victoria and was lucky enough to receive one in Horse Business Management. From there, I gained my first job with Magic Millions as a bloodstock agent at their Gold Coast office before being transferred to look after Southeast Asia for the company based in Singapore. My father is now also here as a premiership-winning trainer.

What do you love about it?
No day is the same. Aside from the training and races here, I go around the world meeting new owners and attending a range of events and sales. And the highs and lows of racing are so evenly matched: one minute you can have the best horse in Singapore, the next minute another one of your horses loses a race. It’s this roller-coaster ride that makes you wake up and continue to look for the next champion. Racing is more an enjoyable hobby than a job!

What was the first horse you owned?
Let Him Go. I bought him with some friends of mine from the Richmond Aussie Rules club after we’d won a few dollars on the Melbourne Cup. He won his third start and then got sold to Hong Kong. Actually, the same syndicate of guys I owned the horse with still own a couple now. I think maybe once in eight years we have had to put money back into our pocket again for training fees. The rest of the time, we’ve had ones good enough to pay for themselves with a little bit of interest.

What’s racing in Singapore like?
Quite amazing, really. It’s the most cost-effective place to race a horse in terms of prize money and training fees. Also, the opportunity to travel your horse is on your doorstep, and the Singapore Turf Club offers one of the best facilities in the world to not only train a horse but also to watch it run and win. It recently spent $100 million on facilities, which if you know racing is just amazing. The vets are some of the best credentialed in the world, and the staff and organisation are amazing. It all makes owning a racehorse so much better. The scene in Singapore is developing, too. When I first moved here seven or so years ago, there was very little atmosphere outside of the major race days. Now it’s a place that is buzzing all the time. The new generation of owners are young, and there are a lot of expats going to the races and dipping their toes into the sport. This is mainly because the prize money is so amazing, but it’s also a great way to host guests or to do some networking.

stabletour3

What does Premier Racing do?
We basically buy and sell horses, but we also put more people into racing. When I first moved here I met a lot of people interested in racing who didn’t know how to get involved or thought it would be too expensive. When I started Premier Racing with my business partner Craig Geehman, the first aim was to get more people involved, so we offered shares – we still do, anywhere between one and 100 percent. This way, people can get in at any level to experience racing either in a social/networking way or as a “purist”.

What comes with owning a share in a horse?
When you become an owner with PRP, you get a membership card that entitles you and a guest to the races when your horse is running. You get access to the mounting yard where you can hear plans and tactics before a race or the jockeys discussing your horse’s run after the race. If you’re lucky enough to win, you get access to the winning champagne room where you can watch the replay time after time! We also have four staff members available to make sure that your day is an enjoyable experience, win, lose or draw. We provide three updates a week and usually plenty of phone calls in between. The updates include a YouTube video of how things are coming along according to the trainer, track rider or jockey working with the horse, and a written report. We are a transparent syndicator and improving all the time.

How can a Singapore-based expat get involved in owning a racehorse?
It’s so easy to become an owner in Singapore, whether you’re based here or abroad. You need to be over 21 and have no criminal record. Then you choose the horse you like, pay for the share and away you go. Our motto is “Easy, Fun, Exciting” – and the “Easy” part is getting involved.

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What are the initial and on-going costs?
We cap our training fees at $4,800 per month, per 100-percent share. As we sell anywhere from one to 100 percent shares, you can buy into a horse from $1,000 up. There are no hidden costs and if we get overcharged we don’t pass it on. Also, if you don’t run first or last in a race, you get $900 off your monthly training bill as an incentive from the Singapore Turf Club. Once your horse is up and running, it will usually run twice a month. So you could be getting $1,800 dollars off your bill per month (if your not winning or running last!).

Why is it a good investment?
Aside from the excitement of seeing and cheering your horse home – one of the best feelings in the world – there are great returns in Singapore compared with other racing centres around the world. Also, a great initiative from Premier Racing Partnerships is that horses purchased at any Magic Millions sale are eligible for bonuses of up to S$75,000. This is a guaranteed pay-out that goes to owners of a successful horse that qualifies highest in the first and second leg of the year-old More Magic series starting on 19 September. No other syndication company offers that to any of their owners. In fact, we would be surprised if anyone offers that anywhere in the world.

And the risks of being involved?
The chief one is if the horse turns out to be no good or he gets injured. We always remind people that they are buying into a horse and not a machine. You have to be prepared to lose your initial outlay before you can consider horse racing.

To enquire about the various opportunities in joining Premier Racing Partnerships, call 9382 1524 wade@pracingp.com or visit premierracing-partnerships.com.

 

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