News & Events

Red-letter day for super syndicate

Courtesy of Matt Markham, The Press

No matter what he does today, Franco Harrison is already a raging success.

Of course the 420 owners in the Go Harness In It For Fun syndicate will be hoping for nothing other than a victory, but for the racing industry as a whole, it runs a lot deeper. Because of that large number of shareholders, more than half are first-time harness racing owners - a massive coup in a sport which is struggling to attract new people.

It's an affordable, outside- the-square concept for horse ownership and for Noel Kennard, who established the setup, it's his crowning glory.

"There is no way I would have thought things would play out like this," Kennard said.

"I initially thought if we could get 300-odd shares sold it would be a success, but to reach 420 is something I am very proud of. And even better is the fact that more than 50 per cent of those people are new people to the industry."

Kennard set the price per share at $360 - a one-off payment which covers two years of racing. That's all he requires from the large group of owners.

At the end of the two years, Franco Harrison will be onsold, with profits from the sale, and any stake money he wins, divvied up between shareholders. The chances of returning a profit are slim, if not next to none, but that isn't what Kennard set out to achieve.

"This has always been purely about getting new owners into a racehorse at a price which is affordable for nearly everyone."

More than 200 of the owners will be on course today to witness their new acquisition strut his stuff, with Addington Raceway getting involved and allowing them the use of one of its private rooms for the day.

"To have so many coming to watch is great, I have had contact from people who are travelling from all over the country to watch him," Kennard said.

"And to be able to cater for them in a room where everyone is together will be great for fostering new friendships and adding some camaraderie to the whole affair."

From a racing aspect, Franco Harrison has got things about as good as they come. His trainer is Cran Dalgety, who is regarded as one of the best in the business, and his driver is the incomparable Dexter Dunn.

Kennard and Dalgety selected Franco Harrison as their horse and forked out $60,000 to buy him off Spreydon Lodge and trainer Steven McRae. The Falcon Seelster 3-year- old has had three raceday starts, finishing second on each occasion, making him a promising racing prospect over the coming months.

"We were lucky, we got a ready-made racehorse," Dalgety said.

"Steven McRae had done a wonderful job with him before we got him and it was just a case of keeping him ticking over."

So what can the hoards of owners flocking to Addington today expect from their charge?

"I have been really happy with his progress, his trials have been impressive.

"He's going to win his first few races very quickly I think; there is definitely plenty of upside to him.

"And everything was looking good for this week until Mark Purdon went and chucked that horse of his in the race."

Purdon's horse is the much-hyped debutant, Didjamakem Bolt, who begins his career with a reputation that matches that of his namesake. A big-figure purchase from Southland into Purdon and co-trainer Grant Payne's stable, Didjamakem Bolt has been touted as a horse with a massive future.

"By all accounts he is very, very good and we might only be running for second money.

"And if that is our result I will be happy, but anything can happen in racing."

When you have the weight of 420 winners figuratively riding you to the finish line, anything is possible.