The Trials & Tribulations of Owning a Racehorse

I'm reading Freud On Course: The Racing Lives of Clement Freud. Originally published in 2009, shortly after he passed away.

I've stormed through the first three or four chapters. It's a decent read full of wit and wisdom from the multi-talented grandson of the psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud. 

It's interesting to read how Clement considered having a horse in training would give him an advantage to privileged information meaning he would win a few quid gambling. Over the years, he had a number of horses in training, often in partnership with friends and acquaintances. In fact, he even owned a horse with Uri Geller, called Spoonbender. Unfortunately, that didn't result in a winner.

In fact, Freud seemed to often struggle with horse trainers, swiftly moving them to pastures new if the handler didn't quite live up to expectation. One reason given was that when you are paying considerable fees that you want to be able to phone the trainer at any time. It's interesting that when a horse was moved from a stable the trainer was rarely mentioned by name.

Anyway, it seems along the way that Clement had a number of horses in training starting with one he bought after winning a selling race. 

That didn't turn out to be the best move as it seemed to be permanently lame. 

Writing his column in the Racing Post, he gave a warts-and-all narrative of his hopes for his horse(s) and their chance of winning. 

Many times they won unexpectedly or when fancied failed to shine. From reading his prose, it seems that the likelihood of making a return on just about any equine investment is a very unlikely happening. 

However, he did have one or two bets that put a smile on his face. 

In 2006, he purchased a son of Cadeaux Genereaux, at a cost,  by the time it got to the trainer in North Yorkshire, of £40,000. 

The horse was in training with Mark Johnston and finished second on debut at Haydock over 6f on heavy going when an 8/1 shot. 

The respected owner said: ''He had two more runs, one at Ayr, the other at York and was placed at short prices each time, the short prices not wholly unconnected with my investments.''  

''After the third non-win, which nearly wiped me out, I moved him to a trainer in East Anglia who charged less than half the last man's training fees.  

Michael Chapman, the new trainer, sealed a win at Wolverhampton with an easy six-length victory. The horse was pretty consistent racing six times with Chapman, however, Freud fell out with the trainer and moved Eau Good to Brendan Powell, in the West Country.   

Eau Good proved a memorable day when winning at Windsor at odds of 28/1. Freud went in for the kill with a hefty £300 each-way (the win part of the bet alone worth £8,400). 

Now three years old, he ran twice over hurdles at Kempton and Folkestone.

''Nothing, or to put it another way, pulled up in one contest and tailed off in the other.''  

Eau Good was swiftly moved back to Michael Chapman's stable because of a 'lack of success as well as a failure in communication'. 

Freud said: ''For the £20,000 a year you pay to train, shoe, vet, enter and transport a racehorse, I want to be able to contact his minder when I feel like it.'' 

However, all didn't go well when Darryll Holland was booked to ride Eau Good at Windsor. The horse went to the start in a crab-like fashion. 

The experienced jockey told the vet he wasn't happy with the mobility of the horse and they 'withdrew him not under starter's orders'. 

Freud wasn't best happy to hear that the jockey had been told whatever it felt and looked like, once out of the stalls, the horse would run like a stag. 

The jockey denied being told this and allegedly said: ''It felt as if the horse had broken its back.'' 

Hearing this news Freud sent the horse to a good friend to give him an opinion. 

There was a catalogue of problems:

Sore back. 

Deeply unhappy. 

Bit anyone who came near him. 

''A wind-sucking, weaving brute.''

Clement made up his own mind to sell Eau Good. 

He went to Ascot sales (Lot 41) and sold for just 950 guineas and went to a good home in the Midlands.

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