Surf and Turf: In The Paddock sorts out the jumble for first-time buyers

In The Paddock a useful tool for novice owners
By Robin Gibson 1:22PM 8 FEB 2017

Racing on the web with RPSunday columnist Robin Gibson

YOU read some really tortuous stuff about how many big online players aren't making a bean. Actually they're losing tins of beans; probably numerous steep hills of beans. But it doesn't matter, because they're changing capitalism.

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In this new goldrush, losing $164m on $2bn turnover is fine. You don't need profit – just make sure you always look like a target for someone bigger. Oligopoly results. And that's not the kind of opoly a consumer wants.

Even dear old Twitter is talked up as a Facebook acquisition. Dear, dear old Twitter. How we'll miss it. Or will we? As 'Sinas' commented the other day on an online thinkpiece: "People don't want to pay for Twitter and Facebook because, ultimately, we know we don't actually need it. If it all dies off again, so be it . . . we'll be fine without."

Not a bad point. It's not like it's rice or bread. That's the stuff people will pay for in a tight corner.

While the new behemoths redefine business by not making money, laying off staff and swallowing each other without looking at the ingredients, the traditional economy trundles along like Steptoe's cart – plugging away with wrinkly ideas such as production, sale, ownership and consumption.

But you don't need to be a Marxist to know that even this sort of thing changes. In the old days before sound, when everyone had a bet on the horses every day, hardly anybody wanted to shell out for an actual horse.

For a start, they had to buy gin and fags, so they left the horsebuying to the King, then the Queen, the odd sultan/sheikh, and that legendary tribe, the 'old-style owner-breeders'. But now the old-style owner-breeders are dying out, having fatally neglected to breed among themselves. Probably something to do with not understanding computers.

Attracting new owners

As Lee Mottershead pointed out in his column, the sport of kings should be the sport of the people. There's nothing like possession to add enjoyment and encouraging personal stakes beyond a two-quid betting slip could give the game a boost.

As Lee also pointed out – he's a winning pointer – this has been acknowledged officially now with the launch of Great British Racing's latest venture.

You've got to say In The Paddock gets off to an excellent start. Its slogan is the very sensible and clear 'Discover shared racehorse ownership'. Perhaps we've seen the last of 'Touch the Passion' and 'Feel the Speed' or whatever – the ones that always remind you a bit too much of 'Smell the Glove'.

The video suggests you can share your passion (sorry, ownership) with like-minded people. Not so sure about that – no-one in shot looks particularly warped, but that could just be me.

The site is a clean effort, employing the Gooooooogle letterbox strategy. Whack in your postcode and up come the results.

It's also a bit like one of the Rightmove-type property sites, except prices start at less than a million quid. It lets you filter your search, by suchlike as minimum cost per share, all-inclusive, variable cost and regular instalments, plus racing code, average number of members and contract length.

Results come sorted by distance, which is good. Sorting by cost might also be good. Although a postcode might optimistically steer you to Highclere, your bank balance might not. The thrifty will find opportunities for £50 a month – and that's near London (ish). Keying in SW9 picked out 69 clubs and syndicates plying for trade, so ITP looks pretty well linked up.

While there are plenty close enough, the furthest recommendation from Brixton is 355 miles away. Bit of a trek that. And there could be gremlins afoot, as some distances seem a tad short and some a touch far. It says Neil Mulholland is is 3,556 miles away. The crows must be zigzagging.

Trying out a postcode for Glasgow – where some people spend some of their time, apparently – found 69 as well, which seems a bit of a coincidence, and again the distances looked a bit wobbly.

You can't quibble with the general concept and quality, though. In the background is plenty of primer and advice for the nervous and it's a massive improvement for would-be owners to have all-areas access like this.

Links lead to profiles for trainer, club or syndicate, and eventually you'll have to contact them yourself.

But then that's the same with most things that are fun and ITP looks like a useful way for the novice to sort the jumble. Google "racehorse ownership" and it's a right old mixture, enough to put off the uncommitted. Tim Easterby's got someone good doing his SEO, though.

Unfinished business

You never know, you might end up with a National winner. Well, that's what you're meant to say, isn't it? But investments can go down as well as up and you might not. I've certainly never felt close to the trophy but new sponsors Randox (@RandoxOfficial) are doing their best to get me there.

They've even followed me on Twitter, which is nice, although I fear I'll be unable to offer much to help their quest to improve health worldwide, unless they want a specimen to warn the others with.

Still, they are slinging out a series of decent videos of the making of the new trophy, like this one. It's not finished, obviously.

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