Going to the gee-gees

Nicole Elliott

Going to the gee-gees

Many consider Royal Ascot the apex of the UK's summer social calendar - horseracing and other equine pursuits; the sport of kings. Marry the two and Bob's your uncle. The appeal filters all the way through British society, with staff jamborees at the Epsom Derby, televised racing, and a small flutter by little old ladies who wouldn't otherwise be seen dead at the bookies. Eliza Doolittle's cry was like my three-year-old daughter's at a West Country point to point - so excited she fell down the bank into stinging nettles. It's all jolly good fun.

It's also jolly big business. Grandstands to vie with some of the biggest and best of cricket, football and rugby facilities. Great turnout at the big events - 120,000 at Epsom last Saturday, regular followers at smaller events nationwide, and a season that runs throughout the year. What's not to like?

British breeders and trainers, along with their Irish counterparts, are world famous, with expertise and business acumen stretching back centuries. Not just good at flat racing and fences, but cross country, dressage - where the British team snatched Olympic gold in 2012 - and show jumping, with the Princess Royal mother and daughter team outstanding members of the squad.

All well and good, but how are Investors Chronicle readers to profit? Oh dear, must everything be down to money? How dreary life could be, counting the pennies when not absolutely necessary. Sometimes, please, just enjoy a day off the beaten track. Or you could always help out a young hopeful, like Charlotte Dujardin who only a handful of years ago had a six-year-old ropey horse and needed riding lessons.

You could buy a little filly, or one of the yearlings at auction, and have some fun watching their progress - or lack of (I'm sure you've heard of City boys or bankers who've bought the hind leg of a thoroughbred). Join a syndicate and get front-row seats at the races. Certainly a lot cheaper than a debenture at Wimbledon.

Obviously one needs good advice and trustworthy people to collaborate with; but that is the case with all business ventures. The combination of strong experience and deep pockets works most, but not all of the time. So don't be put off and, for those of a nervous disposition, you don't have to ride.

One could upscale, buying a polo team perhaps. Polo in the Park at Hurlingham, where the rules for the game were established, sponsored by Chestertons estate agents, saw six international teams compete, backed by airlines, hotel groups and luxury retailers attracted by a fast and furious version of the game.

Really big time? The Al Maktoum's of Dubai know how to splash the cash, but even they have been unable to buy into a really big trainer like John Magnier and his Coolmore stud. These don't often change hands, although Australia's Yallambee Stud sold this year to Spendthrift Farm (love the name!) of the US. Nice to know there are some things a hedge fund manager cannot buy.

More risk still? Family friends of my grandmother who emigrated to Argentina had an 18,000 hectare farm just outside Buenos Aires with over 50,000 cleverly bred sheep. They sold the lot to buy Bonnie Dundee in 1857, Ireland's Glory (£12,000) and Old Warden (£20,000). The horses survived the sea crossing.



Nicole Elliott is a long standing Member of the Society of Technical Analysts and has just taken over the IC's trading coverage. She is regularly interviewed and quoted by the financial media, is a conference speaker, and author of several books on charting.

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