Thinking of buying a horse?

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I think around this time last year I did an article on ways to go about buying a horse and I do receive e-mails on the topic every now and then, so I thought I would give a rough guide on ways you can go about it.

Obviously everyone’s situations are different. The first big NO NO is to rush into it at the spur of the moment, especially if money is a bit tight because it can be an expensive hobby. If you have the money and are able to purchase a horse outright then you are one of the lucky ones. You simply find the trainer you want to train your horse, brainstorm a bit, or put all your faith in them and go to the sales to pick it out. However a large majority are not able to do that, and are looking to get a small percentage in a horse to have an interest and get that buzz out of owning a horse.

Let me start by giving a rough price on racing a horse. Let’s say you were going to the upcoming QTIS sales at the Gold Coast. If you were to purchase a horse for $20,000, you then have to add $2000 (gst) + $3300 (qtis registration) and a few hundred more for transport, scoping, insurances etc. So as you can see your purchase is now around $26,000. From there the horse will get broken in which can be a couple of thousand. As a rough guide some people feel the first year of training a yearling is around the $15,000 mark (very roughly depending on circumstances). So if you are lucky enough to get one that will race with the first year, your outlay of $20,000 at the sales is closer to $40,000 by the time it hits the track. (That’s if it races as a two year old)

That is not to scare anyone off, it’s simply to let you know that budgeting is very important. Many people choice to buy into horse for around 10%, so in the case above it would mean around $4000 for the purchase and to get through till around Christmas, which is much more affordable for the average person looking to get into ownership. It is easy enough to ring a trainer before or after the sales to see what horses they have available, and we have a heap of trainers that we catch up with all the time that are great to deal with and I can put you in touch with.

There is also the option to get a group of mates together and start a syndicate. As long as the friends all get along and you trust each other, this can be a great way to involved in racing. There are many different ways you can go about it. For example some mates and I decided a few years ago that we wanted to get involved. We have about a dozen blokes involved and we decided that we would get all our money together and have enough to buy and pay ongoing training fees so we didn’t have to keep paying the ongoing costs each month, they simply come out of the money we put in. That way you know exactly what you have to work with and you don’t have to reach into the pocket again. We gave ourselves an 18 month period that we had to come up with the money so it wasn’t too harsh on everyone’s budgets. We purchased our first horse outright and it will never make the track. We then had some left over money so we purchased small percentages in two other yearlings. We will be making our last purchase at this Qtis sale and that gives us three horses to follow, hopefully for a few years to come, but you just never know in racing! One yearling has had a start and run 2nd at Doomben on a Saturday. So as you can see, we have already seen the extreme highs and lows of racing in a very small time period!

There are the other syndicates where mates will get together and throw in the purchase cost, whether it is a % or to own outright, and then simply pay the ongoing cost’s monthly. It just comes down to what best suits certain people and groups.


There are many costs involved with racing a horse.  Lots of people make the mistake of thinking that the most expensive thing is buying them, but often it is the training fees and upkeep that is the expensive part.

When a horse is in full work it can be anywhere around $2500-$2800 a month depending on who trains and where they train from.

You also have shoeing, vet bills, race nominations and acceptance fees, transport, travel and many other things to consider.

On average you would really want to budget somewhere around $25,000+ for cost of your average horse for a year (in Sth East QLD) Sydney and Melbourne top stables would be a lot more expensive! Obviously this varies a lot depending on how often the horse is in the paddock, or in the stables for a preparation. The best thing to do though is contact the trainer you are interested in and discuss these things with them so you get their costs, but I’m just trying to give you a rough guide if you are considering a purchase.


*The big bonus with the QTIS scheme is that you race for some great prize money with the two year old Saturday races worth $74,000 to the winner if you are QTIS registered. And from memory the Saturday 3 year old races are around $53,000. Lucky for Queensland racing also because I honestly think it is keeping us afloat as there hasn’t been a decent prize money increase for over a decade and it seems a lot of people are sitting on their hands with the ‘She’ll be right’ attitude while some trainers are eating paint off the walls. If or when NSW win the court case there will be traffic jams along the Pacific highway with trainers and owners sending horses south, or even moving down there. But that’s a different story all together and we’ll get to that another time.


*A lot of people make the mistake of thinking owning a horse is unaffordable, but with planning and budgeting it is actually within most people’s reach. I know a few blokes who cut their punting back and formed their own punters club for a few years and are now able to buy a % in a horse to race together. At the end of the day there are a lot of risks to consider, and if you are going into it with the idea of making some quick money, you are well and truly on the wrong track. No doubt the fairy tales do happen now and then, but like most new owners it is the opportunity to meet new people, get to the races and have a few great days out that attracts them into the racing game.