In today’s ‘Owners Insight’ article Phil brings us smack bang up to date with the BG Racing story and also has some very exciting news about their boy OSCARA DARA…
For reasons that will become obvious. I want to bring this little story up to the present day all in one hit; hence this article might be a bit longer than the previous ones! I was going to devote this article to letting you know what goes into setting up an ownership group, but I will come back to that later.
I had reached March 2009 and I was busy looking for more shareholders having set up BG Racing and still holding 45% of the shares personally. In a twist that might be all too familiar to people who have been involved in ownership, I got a call from Alan (Fleming) one morning to let me know that Oscara Dara was injured. He was all set to run in his first National Hunt Flat race and was ready to go. Unfortunately his exuberance had got the better of him and he had apparently reared in his stable and damaged his leg. Nothing serious we thought, but enough that we would need to rough him off for the summer leaving me with a bunch of shares that no one now wanted to buy since he would not be running for six months.
Well things did not get any better by August 2009 when the vet scanned Oscara’s leg prior to him starting training for the 2009/2010 season. His tendon was not right and the advice was to give him six months off. With only a slim chance of getting him back for the end of the season and with the injury likely to be best left alone for longer, a decision was taken to miss the whole season. It is pretty demoralising paying out every month for the upkeep of an injured horse, especially when you are holding about three times as many shares as you can sensibly afford!
To get over the disappointment, Alan arranged for a lease horse for us, for the season and we managed to get her to the races three times during the winter, but with no success and we soon returned her to her owner. We also purchased a horse with a view to a one run and re-sell which did work out well, but we never had the horse long enough to feel like we really owned it. That said it did give me the chance to meet AP McCoy who rode the horse to victory!
Throughout this time, my partners were great. In organising a partnership, you want to try to be open and honest and you hope that everyone will be understanding and supportive, but I can imagine that this is not always the case! Fortunately for me, I had a great group of guys as shareholders and we waited patiently for Oscara Dara to return.
September 2010 saw the next NH season in full swing and Alan was working hard to get Oscara Dara ready to race. Just as we thought our luck might be turning for the better the weather hit us! Snow everywhere and no racing for many days. For a small yard, just clearing the gallops to keep the horses fit was a struggle, but Alan and his team did a great job.
Finally in December we looked ready to go. Only problem was that there were still no meetings due to the frozen ground! We entered several races, but with loads of horses wanting to race as soon as the weather relented, we did not look like getting into any of them. In the end, Alan rang and said that he wanted to go to the ‘all bumpers’ meetings on the sand at Southwell between Christmas and New Year. This was not a massively popular choice with the owners, but we just wanted to get him on the track so we agreed to this option. Having had a hip replaced in early December (40 years old and falling apart), it was one of my first trips out of the house as we trekked up to Southwell to finally see Oscara run.
All did not go smoothly as Alan walked the track and found it was very soft sand having been well worked by the grounds team. I think if we had not all been there, he might have withdrawn OD from the race! Timmy Murphy was riding and he was instructed to look after Oscara Dara and not give him a hard race. Good news was he did exactly that. Better news was that in doing so, he also rode Oscara to a wide margin victory and the dream was alive and kicking! Full details of the day including the race video, can be found on my blog at http://bgracing.wordpress.com in the “Race Diary” section.
After the euphoria of owning a winner, we immediately started planning the future and Alan quickly picked out a more valuable race at Ascot in February. We got Oscara there in one piece where we found ourselves racing against Persian Snow, who was favourite for the Cheltenham bumper, and Mono Man who was a highly regarded Nicky Henderson bumper horse. After splitting these two (Oscara Dara finished 2nd) and running a great race after being forced to make our own pace, plans were hatched to go to Aintree for the bumper on Grand National day. Unfortunately before we could get there, disaster struck and Oscara Dara was injured again. It was the type of injury that normally keeps a horse off the track for 12 months or more, hence Alan sent Oscara to Ireland to be treated by a vet there that has really good results treating this kind of injury.
This coincided however with Alan leaving Henfold Stables and after failing to secure another role or stables, he decided to head back to Ireland to continue looking for a suitable opportunity and we needed a new trainer. After looking at several options, the partners voted to send Oscara Dara to Nicky Henderson. Nicky was very keen to have the horse as he had a good line on Oscara’s form being that he trains the only horse that had beaten him to that point! We sent Oscara down to Seven Barrows in July and Nicky started slowly bringing him up to fitness, with regular scans of his leg to check his progress.
And here we are…
I feel like I have rather rushed through that lot and I might come back and spend a bit more time going through some of the story in a bit more detail in future articles, but for now, the main focus is that Oscara Dara is being targeted at a 2m 2f novice hurdle at Fontwell this Sunday (5th Feb). If you are at Fontwell, feel free to come and say hello. I will be the very nervous looking member of the Oscara Dara ownership group. We are watching the weather and the ground and we have not got a jockey booked yet, but if you care to follow our progress on the website mentioned above please do. If you happen to be watching the races on ATR, please give us a cheer and keep your fingers crossed that we get a decent result!
All the best
Many thanks to Phil for taking the time to share the BG Racing story with us. Lets all keep our fingers crossed for Fontwell on Sunday; hopefully the cold snap won’t claim the meeting. I’m sure the NTF massive will all be cheering on our adopted son and we wish Phil and crew the best of racing luck as there boy returns from injury.