Tullius - with KVT colours - wins the 2014 Group 2 Bet365 MileIf you are interested in racing, or even obsessed by it, and have always wanted to feel the thrills of ownership, joining a syndicate and buying a share in a horse is a first step. Racing manager Sam Hoskins can certainly find you a share in one of the horses Kennet Valley Thoroughbreds (KVT.)
The KVT syndicate was started in 1988 by Nick Robinson - the man who helped get Robert Sangster into racing. He suggested Sangster put a bet on Chalk Stream - a good Wiltshire name. The horse did not win, but Sangster bought the horse as a gift for his fiancée.
Nick Robinson, now aged 77, was a pioneer of horseracing syndicates. He was the publisher of the racing industry's Pacemaker magazine, which has now merged with Thoroughbred Owner and Breeder magazine.
Last year Robinson handed over management of KVT to a very much younger man - 28-year-old Sam Hoskins. And he has now retired as KVT's Chairman - but still owns shares on some of KVT's horses. Over the years KVT have sent out 122 winners and earned £2.8million in prize money.
Sam Hoskins at Newbury Sam Hoskins became interested in racing when his grandmother owned half of Errant Knight - a chestnut gelding trained by Martin Pipe who won sixteen races in the early 1990s. Sam got a great thrill from leading him in after races.
When he was seventeen - and still at school - he found out how to lay off his bets. Then one day he forgot to lay off what was for him then a huge gamble - a £20 bet on the Nicky Henderson trained hurdler Geos. It was the 2004 running of Newbury's Tote Gold Trophy Hurdle. Faced with a field of 25 runners, Sam spent an agonising time waiting to lose his £20. But the horse won and he pocketed £400 - that hooked him on racing.
Sam Hoskins trained on the Irish National Stud course - a course that covers many aspects of racing: "I lost a stone and a half mucking out!" He then worked at studs in Kentucky and Cambridge, New Zealand where there is a mix of breeders, trainers, polo, eventers and racing: "I learnt the ropes there."
Back in Britain, he spent two and a half fulfilling years working for the Niarchos family - leading racehorse owners and breeders.
With that £400 win behind him, and a head for the niceties of breeding and form, he went on to win racing's lottery prize: he landed the Racing Post Ten-to-Follow Competition for the 2008-2009 jump season - a cool £440,000 win. It allowed him to set himself up in business.
In 2012 he started the Hot to Trot Racing Club with Luke Lillingston. This is more a racing members club than a syndicate. They lease horses rather than buying them and so can provide a much more affordable way into racehorse 'ownership'. Hot to Trot currently has seven horses.
The KVT silks Sam and Piers Winkworth are continuing KVT's regime of selling shares in single, named horses - 16 shares for each horse at around £7,000 per share. With trainers' fees at between £50 and £60 per day, it is an expensive business. But winnings and any money left over at the end of the season is returned to shareholders.
The syndicate has horses with trainers Andrew Balding, Charlie Hills, Ralph Beckett and Richard Hannon. It is mainly involved with young horses - buying at the yearling sales in the £30-50,000 range. This season they have four two year olds - three colts and a filly.
They have one 'old timer' - the much cherished syndicate star Tullius. He is an Irish bred seven year-old chestnut gelding trained by Andrew Balding at Kingsclere. On 25 April 2014, Tullius, with Jimmy Fortune aboard, ran on strongly to win Sandown's Group Two BET365 Mile by three and three-quarter lengths. That win was worth £53,800 to KVT.
And last month he won the Betway Doncaster Mile Stakes by half a length. But Jimmy Fortune could only bring him in fourth of a field of five in last Friday's (April 24) BET365 Gordon Richards Stakes at Sandown - like humans, horses have to have 'off-days'.
Sam takes a realistic view of Tullius: "He's not the most straightforward horse. And we are already thinking ahead about ways to give him a good retirement after racing."
KVT horses earned their owners £238,477 in 2014: "Last year," Sam told Marlborough News Online, "was our most successful season for many years, mainly due to the fantastic year had by our star Tullius."
KVT's other horses for this flat season are: Bishop's Leap, Frenchman, Magical Memory, Match my Fire, Maxwell, Signal Hill and Stroke of Midnight.
Some people may find that joining a syndicate not only brings the thrill of winning, but also some doubts when something goes wrong with your horse. But the good days in the winner's enclosure always make up for any set backs.
Tim Price and Wesko (courtesy U.S. Eventing Association)New Zealand eventing pair Tim Price and Wesko, who are based at Mildenhall, have finished second at the Rolex Kentucky Four Star Three Day Event, just behind the reigning Olympic champ Michael Jung.
On the final day of the competition, Price and Wesko (owned by Christina Knudsen and The Wesko Syndicate) had a single rail down in the showjumping. This allowed Germany's Michael Jung and Fischerrocana FST to take first place.
Jung also took third place with his second horse. And the defending Kentucky champion, Britain's William Fox-Pit and Bay My Hero went clear to hold on to fourth place.
The showjumping phase took place in front of a crowd of more than 23,000: “You just have to put everything to one side and focus,” said Price. “My horse is very good in a crowd and I believed that would lift him today . . . and it did.”
Next month, Price will be competing at Badminton with Ringwood Sky Boy, and later in the season he will return to Luhmuhlen which he won last year, but this time with a young horse.
His diary for 2016 is filling up: “I will definitely be back at Kentucky next year.”
For New Zealanders at the event, the last day was clouded by Emily Cammock's hard decision to have her horse, the 15-year-old grey gelding Dambala, put down. Vets told her that the leg injury that recurred during the cross country meant he would never be right again - even in retirement.
Cammock said in a statement: “He was the most honest, willing and trusting horse that always gave 150 percent. I feel honoured that he put his trust in me and together we made a pretty awesome team.”
Following his equal first dressage score at the Rolex Kentucky Three Day Event on Friday (April 24), Tim Price tweeted a photo of a calm and grazing Wesko: "Super happy with this pony!! Thanking ya'll for your support. Time to cross country up!!!!"
Without much ado and with rain affecting the course, Tim and Wesko, who are based near Marlborough at Mildenhall, rode a faultless cross country round. They remain top of the leaderboard with just the show jumping stage to come on Sunday (April 26.)
The Rolex Kentucky is one of the six highest rated four star eventing competitions held annually around the world. And with two of the three disciplines behind them Tim and Wesko hold a 0.4 of a penalty point lead over the German rider and Olympic Champion Michael Jung who is in second place on LA Biosthetique-Sam FBW and also in third place on Fischerrocana FST.
British entry and former winner of the event, William Fox-Pitt lies in fourth place on Bay My Hero.He was one of the last to compete on the cross country course and came home with 8.4 time faults.
Of the cross country's 71 starters, there were just six combinations clear and inside the optimum time, with 26 going clear but picking up time faults, 15 were eliminated and 10 retired on the course.
Elated by Tim Price's performance with Wesko, the New Zealand team also suffered a disappointment. Emily Cammock and Dambala rode a clear round with 11.2 time faults - moving them from 38th to 18th after the cross country.
However, she has to withdraw him from the showjumping: “After the second to last fence I felt something wasn’t quite right and as we pulled up at the end of the course it was obvious we had a problem,” said Cammock. She thinks an old injury has been revived by the softer ground.
Tim Price & Wesko: Luhmuhlen cross country 2014 (Photo: courtesy Kerstin Hoffmann)New Zealand eventer Tim Price and Wesko delivered their best-ever dressage score to take equal first place at the front of the field at the Rolex Kentucky Three Day Event in the United States (Friday, April 24.)
It is the pair's first appearance at the top-ranked four star event, and they share the 36.3 penalty point lead with Olympic, World and two-time European champ Michael Jung of Germany aboard La Biosthetique – Sam FBW after a very smooth test.
Tim Price, who with his wife, Jonelle, have stables just north of Mildenhall, is delighted: “I knew he had it in him,” he said of the big warmblood with whom he won the four star crown at Luhmuhlen last year. “I know he is that good, but to do it in the ring is what we have been trying to achieve. I am just elated with him really, he is such a cool horse.”
The Kentucky event is early in the European eventing season and has attracted a truly international field - 75 entrants all eyeing Rio 2016.
Britain's William Fox-Pitt - the reigning Kentucky champion - took third place in the dressage on Bay My Hero. Another British entry, Nicola Wilson on Annie Clover is lying in eleventh place.
But Zara Phillips and High Kingdom had to withdraw from the competition before the dressage stage began. High Kingdom kicked out in his stable and split the skin on his off-hind leg. He needed stitches and was withdrawn in the best interests of the horse.
Saturday's cross country stage will be the real test - rain is forecast. And the 13,000 crowd who watched the dressage on Friday, can expect some tight riding over a tough cross country course - and to get wet.