We spoke with the partnership’s founder and manager Mr John Wicks to learn more about the long-standing syndicate.
When did you first launch the syndicate and what gave you the idea in the first place?
I’d been involved in a racing partnership in Lambourn and had helped manage a syndicate for Fulke Johnson-Houghton in Oxfordshire, before moving up north in May 1999 to take over a holiday cottage complex that I still manage today. Therefore, with a bit of experience behind me, I thought I’d have a crack at managing a syndicate for one of the Malton-based trainers.
I had whittled my short list down to three and was trying to decide which one of them to introduce myself to, when I decided to go racing one day at Beverley.
On that day, I distinctly remember Richard picking a bit of grass for a horse in the unsaddling enclosure that had finished third. After that, I thought I’d go with him.
From then on, what Richard did was buy us one horse each year and say ‘there you go John – see how many people you can get to buy a share in him’. It’s not like I buy the horse and then look to sell the shares at a profit. It’s Richard that does the buying and it’s then my job to get as many people involved in the horse as I can.
We’re lucky now that we have a very loyal bunch of members who know each other well and are a very friendly group. Everything is settled democratically, whether that’s choosing a horse’s name or deciding whether to sell a horse or not. And it’s never been difficult to bring new members into the partnership because, like I say, the dynamic is very friendly and everyone is simply there to enjoy themselves.
You’ve been with Richard for a long time; he had just 25 horses at his Butterwick base when you first set up the partnership. What is it about the place that you and your members like?
I think the main thing that myself and the members appreciate is Richard’s honesty. He is not keen on wasting people’s money and he is not interested in having horses on the yard that shouldn’t be there. And so, by not hanging onto horses unnecessarily and not wasting people’s money, the members know that Richard acts with their best interests at heart.
Added to that, Richard and Rob have always bought well for the partnership. We trust them to buy the right horse at the right price. They do so by using their connections and astuteness to secure decent horses for reasonable money. Any horse is only ever bought for what they consider to be good value. It’s not purchased simply to fill a box.
At the end of the day, the trainer’s the same, I’m the same, but the people that have been involved year after year (one, Trevor, has been with us since 2002) know that the partnership gets the same attention that it did in ’99. There’s a trust that Richard does his best and that I do my best.
Is there a particular race or goal that Let’s Go Racing would love to bag?
One day we’d love to have one of Listed class! However, we count ourselves very lucky, at these prices, to have any horse rated over 70. We have ambitions obviously, but, for the sake of everyone’s interests, you can’t advertise them. You’re just setting yourself up to be shot down if you do.
We accept that, with a bit of luck on our side, our horses will compete in decent handicaps for reasonable prize money. Then, if you can get something to head to a good Class 3 – then great. As a group, we don’t have any strange ideas about what the partnership is. The members part with a bit of money each year and what they hope for in return is a bit of fun.
Hopes for your two horses this season?
The best we’ve had to date is Luis Vaz De Torres. He ran 56 times between 2014-20; winning ten races, second in three and third on ten occasions – earning over £80,000 in prize money. His career-best rating was 85. Having already achieved a rating of 88, we hope that Master Zoffany will turn out to be our best horse yet. He won a couple of Class 2 races round Chester last season, has strengthened up over the winter and so we have high hopes that he can get somewhere near Listed class before the season is out. Richard is obviously earmarking a return to Chester at some point, having won twice and placed once from three starts, and he will be needing good (good to soft) ground at the very least. There are 13 people involved in him.
I’m not one for these write-ups that advertise horses as Group horses before their first run. I can’t do that – I’d just be setting people up for disappointment. However, we do hope Richard and Robin have picked us up a very good one in Dare To Hope. He’s a first foal out of Prying Pandora, who was trained by Richard a few years back for Middleham Park. She was pretty good, rated in the mid-80s, and had a bit of size and scope that she’s definitely passed onto her son.
He’s a fantastically well-made, powerful, strong horse with a fantastic walk and one that looks to be happy in his work. Richard’s told us that he’s going well up the gallops, hasn’t yet had any major issues and is generally doing everything right. I personally have got very high hopes of him – I think he’s the real deal. He’s a February colt, so he’s certainly the earliest colt we’ve ever had and I think the lads ‘got away with one’ when they bought him for £20,000.
Finally, if you could sum up your experience in this syndicate into three words, what would they be?
It’s friendship. It’s excitement. It’s life.
There is one 6.5% share still available in Dare To Hope. For further details, see this link below: