As you may have read here, I was at the sales recently looking to buy a horse with flat form to go hurdling this winter. I was actually looking for a three-year-old but, with my choices either making fortunes or having one or two potential issues, the horse I've secured is a year older and, I now feel, represents excellent upside potential.
The only real implication of that is he won't be targeted at the Fred Winter or Triumph Hurdles, assuming we were good enough for that job. Instead, we have a horse with the size and scope to jump a hurdle - and maybe a fence in time - and who might just make up into a smart winter recruit without the eye-watering price tag normally associated with such prospects.
He's called Makthecat, and was formerly trained by Karl Burke. He won a mile novice stakes at Southwell in January, and has been fairly busy since the resumption of racing. In the past three months, he's run six races, placing third twice. My feeling, and more importantly that of Olly Murphy, who will train the horse in his new career, is that he's probably got more to show over a longer trip, and perhaps (though not definitely) doesn't want to be ridden so assertively from the front either.
He has flat form off a rating of around 70 but, most interesting - and relevant - of all, he ran in one *excellent* bumper. On that first day in school, at Huntingdon in November last year, he finished a close second, splitting a pair of subsequent Listed bumper performers - with six lengths and more back to the other dozen runners in the race.
The winner and third - whose subsequent form you can see below - both won Listed races within two starts of the Huntingdon race; and both ran in the Champion Bumper, a notoriously difficult contest for four-year-olds, with Ocean Wind managing an impressive sixth of 23 starters. As you can also see from the image below, they were rated 130 and 118 respectively ahead of that Champion Bumper contest.
"Junior" bumpers are run over a trip shy of two miles - this one was a mile and three-quarters - so stamina has ultimately to be taken on trust. But he wasn't stopping there, and his stride/cadence metrics fit the profile of a horse that would normally stay two to two-and-a-quarter miles. I cannot categorically say he will stay but I obviously feel he will, or I wouldn't have signed for him!
His run at Huntingdon gives plenty of hope that we're right about trip and riding style, but obviously we now get to roll the dice and find out!
Makthecat was picked up last week from Newmarket and has gone directly into a field where he'll have a short break to freshen up and acclimatise to his new surroundings.
After that, in a couple of weeks' time, he'll head to Charlie Poste's farm where he'll be schooled over barrels and poles and, in early to mid-October, he'll join the routine at Warren Chase, Olly's training base.
With a following wind, he'll be ready to run in a novice hurdle in middle or, more likely, late November. So we'll be on the track sooner rather than later, assuming no hiccups between then and now.
He looks a really nice horse with which to try to win a novice hurdle and, after that, we'll see how far he can go in his new sphere. It might be he can get competitive in conditions races; more likely we'll be running in handicaps, hopefully good and valuable ones.
The dream is always to have a horse good enough to compete at the spring festivals. Olly realised that dream for us at the first attempt with a horse called Oxford Blu, who won on debut by 20 lengths (!) and went on to run in the Fred Winter. Sadly he was badly hampered in that race but it was a day as owners we'll never forget.
Most horses are not good enough to compete at that level, and the balance of probabilities is that Mak will find his place at a lesser table (you need to be 140+ to get into most Cheltenham Festival handicap hurdles these days).
Regardless, he looks sure to give us plenty of fun through the winter, spring and beyond.
I'm syndicating Makthecat into eleven shares. I've taken one myself, as always, and have sold three more. So there are seven shares available.
The cost to join the syndicate is £4,000, which covers 1/11th of the purchase costs, plus all training and racing expenses in year one, up to 31st August 2021.
Full details can be found in the syndicate agreement, which you can download here.
As a syndicate member, you will be entitled to an equal share of prize money and any sales proceeds down the line, in line with your shareholding (i.e. 1/11th). There are no charges built in for running the syndicate month to month, but I do propose to take 7.5% of the sale price, assuming the horse is sold, for my trouble. That is for another day, of course, but I want to be completely transparent about it from the outset.
Also, as a syndicate member, you'll be able to take part in yard visits to Olly's stables near Stratford-upon-Avon and will be entitled to at least one owner's badge each time our lad runs. Where there is availability, you may request a second badge but these cannot always be accommodated.
And, naturally, you'll receive updates on our horse's well-being, current work load, and the plan as it unfolds.
In essence, you'll be able to get up close to the sport you love as a racehorse owner.
I expect this syndicate will sell out quite quickly: it's a 'point and shoot' type arrangement with a fit horse from the flat who just needs a little time to re-train for his new job. He'll be ready to race in little more than two months assuming all goes well (it sometimes doesn't, so keep that in mind!), and that's more appealing to many who don't enjoy the longer road associated with, say, a store horse.
Anyway, that's a verbose way of saying that, if you're interested in potentially joining this syndicate, do please read the agreement linked to above and make sure you're comfortable with it, and then drop me an email at email@example.com
Very much looking forward to this fellow!