By Alex Nolan
Entrenched in the minds of many is a common misconception that thoroughbred racing is a pastime restricted to the rich and famous; the sport of kings.
An explosion in thoroughbred ownership platforms and syndicators such as miRunners has gone a long way to dispelling this mindset.
Aussies of any age are now able to experience the thrill of owning a blue-blood racehorse thanks to miRunners, which aims to give people both young and old horse racing experiences that are both highly rewarding and affordable.
miRunners CEO Steve Brown says: “What if I told you that you could own a slice in one of the best-bred racehorses in Australia for as little as $176?”
“And, what if I told you that said horse would be trained by one of Australia’s leading horse conditioners?
“Up until a few years ago you would’ve told me I was dreaming but, with miRunners, this is the reality and it’s changing lives.”
There’s nothing like the thrill of horse ownership, which is why Racing Queensland – the sport’s governing body in the Sunshine State – has thrown its support behind the platform.
Two fillies (female horses) were purchased at the world-famous Magic Millions Yearling Sale in January this year and will be trained by legendary Queensland trainers Chris Munce and Robert Heathcote at the historic Eagle Farm Racecourse.
The target: next year’s rich $10 million Magic Millions Raceday on the Gold Coast, Queensland’s richest race day, where both fillies will have the chance to change the lives of their owners forever.
Racing Queensland CEO Brendan Parnell said it was an important step in Racing Queensland’s plan to increase the ownership and participation pool in the state, which is critical to the future sustainability of the sport, which contributes $1.2 billion annually to the state economy.
“There’s nothing like the thrill of owning a share in a racehorse, especially when it’s bought in Queensland and trained in Queensland,” Mr Parnell said.
“This innovative partnership between RQ and miRunners aims to introduce new generations of people to racehorse ownership in a highly rewarding and affordable manner.”
MEET AN OWNER: SCOTT BOOLE
Self-confessed ‘battler’ Scott Boole, 50, admits that purchasing a share in a miRunners horse has been a life-changing experience for both he and his entire family.
Boole, from Queensland’s Runaway Bay, first came across the miRunners platform when scrolling through Facebook over a year ago and was understandably excited.
Scott had always wanted to own a share in a racehorse but could never afford to get involved.
“miRunners gave me the chance to own a share in a racehorse for very little outlay and I get the exact same thrill as the guy who’s paid $100,000 or $200,000 for a horse,” he said.
“We were in the mounting yard prior to our first race with these people and we’d only paid $290. I felt like royalty… we were rubbing shoulders with (trainer) David Hayes and all the biggest names in Australian racing.”
Boole’s introduction to miRunners was a filly named Not A Royal Doubt, trained by the Queen of Australian racing, Gai Waterhouse and her co-trainer Adrian Bott.
The filly developed well enough to be given a chance at the Magic Millions Clockwise Race at Ballarat in November last year, a major thrill for Boole.
“I went down to Victoria from the Gold Coast late on the Friday night and actually camped out in the airport,” Boole laughs.
“I woke up at about 7.30am and there were hundreds of people around me waiting to board their flight. So, I ducked into the bathrooms, got changed into my suit and made my way out to Ballarat for the races.”
While the filly didn’t perform as well as expected, Boole wasn’t deterred.
He now owns a piece of five horses with miRunners and has turned what started as a hobby into his passion.
He has even got wife Narelle and mother-in-law Carol involved in on the fun and started an online ‘miRunners ownership community’ on Facebook.
“It’s been life-changing, it’s as simple as that,” he said.
“We have something to look forward to all the time.”
MEET THE TRAINER: CHRIS MUNCE
Standing at just under five-feet tall, diminutive horseman Chris Munce rose to become a giant of Australian thoroughbred racing.
One of just seven jockeys to complete the coveted ‘Grand Slam’ of Australia’s most prestigious races – the Melbourne Cup, Caulfield Cup, Cox Plate and Golden Slipper – the 49-year-old is now on a rapid upward spiral as a horse trainer at Eagle Farm in Queensland.
“I had a very good career and was fortunate enough to ride a lot of Group 1 winners but none more-so than those four majors,” Munce said.
Munce hung up the saddle for the final time on the prestigious Magic Millions Raceday on the Gold Coast in 2015, rising before dawn the following day to begin life as a conditioner.
Almost four years to the day after his retirement, Munce returned to the Gold Coast to win the 2019 $2 million 3YO Guineas with Queensland-bred and owned horse, Boomsara.
Wild scenes ensued and Munce was, quite literally, rag-dolled around the Gold Coast Turf Club’s winners’ enclosure in the moments after the nail-biting race.
“It (winning the Magic Millions) is something you really can’t explain. For me it was a great achievement as a trainer and I feel very humbled to be able to give Boomsara’s owners that thrill of winning,” he said.
He’s now determined to help up to 1000 new owners experience the same thrill with miRunners’ most recent Magic Millions Yearling Sale purchase, an un-named filly by Snitzel, the same sire as two-time The Everest winner, Redzel.
“It’s a boom time in Queensland racing to take a share in a horse with recent increases in prize money,” Munce said.
The filly was purchased at the 2019 Magic Millions Yearling Sale for $300,000 and is a daughter of the outstanding stallion Snitzel, who has fathered outstanding Group 1 winners such as Trapeze Artist, Russian Revolution, Shamus Award, Sizzling and Wandjina.
In layman’s terms, Snitzel is the sire of the moment and everyone wants a piece of his progeny. miRunners customers can do so for just $330 per-unit.
“She’s a lovely filly and is very precocious,” Munce said.
“You can’t go wrong with a Snitzel filly … she’s just the type of horse you want to saddle up and take to the races. I’m hoping she can get up and run early, a lot of the Snitzel’s do but as I tell the owners, I’ll just let the horse tell me when she’s ready.”
MEET THE TRAINER: ROB HEATHCOTE
Before Rob Heathcote had, quite literally, conquered the world of thoroughbred racing, the Brisbane-based horse trainer had travelled most of it.
Heathcote, once a Contiki Tour Guide, has now become one of the most recognizable faces in Australian racing.
Much of this can be attributed to his champion racehorse of the mid-2000s, Buffering.
Purchased for just $22,000 at the Magic Millions March Yearling Sale, ‘The Buff’ went on to conquer Australian and world racing, with his career highlight coming in the 2016 Al Quoz Sprint on World Cup Night in Dubai.
Buffering was one horse that has helped racing buck the label ‘The Sport Of Kings’, which is why Heathcote is so excited to get involved in the miRunners promotion.
“Quite often it’s referred to as the sport of kings but this promotion makes it affordable,” he said.
“And, trust me, the excitement, be it a its bitsy tiny percentage or owning the whole horse, the excitement of winning is just as high.”
Heathcote is now one of Queensland’s most experienced trainers and counts five Brisbane metropolitan trainers’ premierships to his name.
It has put him in a position as one of the racing industry’s most influential figureheads. His status is only matched by his passion for seeing the industry grow.
“Without owners the industry doesn’t survive,” Heathcote said.
“There’s a lot of people out there that perhaps are a little bit intimidated, they don’t really understand they can be a part of this industry but they can.
“If you could bottle that feeling of the thrill of winning, that’s something I want everybody to share in.”
Of the hundreds of yearlings that have passed through his stables over the years, he has a keen eye for the Written Tycoon x Sponsored filly, which is available for just $176 per-unit.
“The goal is to race in the Magic Millions in January on the Gold Coast,” Heathcote said.
FACT BOX – HOW IT WORKS
- Ownership of the horse is broken down into 1000 units.
- Up to 20 units can be purchased per individual
- Training fees are $15 per-month for the first unit and an extra $5 per-month for every additional unit
FACT BOX – THE OWNERSHIP EXPERIENCE
No matter if you own a single unit or even if you own 20, every unit holder is given the full experience which includes:
- The opportunity to meet your horse
- A certificate of ownership
- Weekly video updates on your horse from the trainer
- A private area at the racetrack for all owners
- A pro-rata share of all prize money won
- The thrill of being able to watch your own horse race!
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