Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Why These Horses Aren't [Pounds Sterling]2m Flops

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Why These Horses Aren't [Pounds Sterling]2m Flops

Article excerpt

Byline: LYDIA HISLOP

THEY cost more than [pound]2 million, but have recouped little more than 10 per cent of that in prize-money - and you can't even breed from them. They are the headline-hitting jumpers whose results to date suggest their vendor thought of a price-tag, then cubed it.

But in a sport that makes zero financial sense, are they really such bad value?

With gleeful schadenfreude, we revelled in the perceived misfortune of certain bighitting National Hunt owners in recent weeks. It got so bad that a scrambling head victory in a race worth [pound]5,000 at Ascot last Saturday can be seen as a relative result for [pound]100,000-plus purchase, Stormez.

Magnus started the rot, back in December.

He swaggered into Newbury, winner of four races on the trot in France - the latest of which netted almost [pound]50,000 for new owner, David Johnson, to offset against his [pound]340,000 cost price. Half an hour later, he'd trailed in last and, more seriously, broken a blood vessel.

Then there was Manchester United shareholder JP McManus's private purchase - in a package deal with Baracouda - of emphatic 2000 King George VI Chase winner, First Gold. The reputed [pound]500,000 paid in January 2001 for that horse alone makes him the most expensive jumper in training.

But, apart from last April's impressive Martell Cup victory, First Gold's form has been hit and miss - mostly miss, albeit at the highest level. Last month, a new leg injury emerged to keep him sidelined until autumn.

John Hales, who owned One Man, shelled out approaching half a million on Mister Banjo and Azertyuiop. Both have great chasing potential, but the former is sidelined this season and the latter - a runner today - has slumped to an outsider's role in next month's Champion Hurdle. And there's more. . .

Only Baracouda - who cost McManus a reported [pound]350,000 - read the script.

Unbeaten in five starts since, he's collected [pound]131,703 in prize-money and is now hot favourite for next month's [pound]125,000 Bonusprint Stayers' Hurdle.

That's the dream money may help you buy - and who's to criticise those who choose to pursue it? …

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