Dean Skipsey and Oliver Franks are two Hertfordshire based race fans who have taken their love of racing to the next level. Hasmonean Racing is the result.
Dean and I have gone back and forth on Twitter for a couple of weeks. I’ve liked a few of his Twitter posts about the Hasmonean Racing syndicate and followed one of his horses at Kempton Park for an article on final2furlongs.com. The syndicate has caught my eye and I’m keen to find out more.
I ping off half-a-dozen questions and Dean comes straight back with some interesting insights. It’s a few days later and, mug of tea in hand, I begin to read what he has sent me.
Dean and Oliver run a small landscaping business in Hertfordshire and both love to go to the races. Wanting to get more involved, in 2018, they bought a small share in their first flat racing horse with Dean Ivory Racing.
Their beloved Gregorian Girl experienced moderate success, both its wins coming at Kempton Park on the all-weather surface in Class 6 handicaps. However, they enjoyed the experience so much that when the horse moved stables, they took on a larger share of their own horse with a small group of friends and essentially set up their own syndicate.
Dean is delightfully philosophical when asked about his reasons for forming Hasmonean with Oliver. He even quotes Seneca to me, ‘there is no delight in owning anything unshared’.
“We had always found our days at the races more enjoyable when there were a group of us. Having a runner as an owner at the races is one thing, but the camaraderie of joint ownership has many benefits over sole ownership. Firstly, the cost of sole ownership is to most people, including ourselves, prohibitively expensive.”
I ask about the horses owned by the syndicate and it’s clear that they have bought well.
“We currently have three horses, with shares available in one of them. We have an incredibly well bred filly by Kingman out of a mare by Fastnet Rock and an equally exciting filly by Bungle IntheJungle out of a mare by Sir Percy. Lastly we have Impeachment, she is a filly by Showcasing. She has placed in all three of her starts to date.”
Queen Kerenza made her debut in June at Kempton Park but sustained a stress fracture during the race. I enquire after her and Dean is positive. “She’s well on the mend now and is back cantering.” They think highly of her and it’s easy to understand why. He assures me that she should be back on the track in October and I make a mental note to make sure that I am there whenever she makes her reappearance.
Their 2-year-old bay filly, Impeachment, has made an encouraging start to life on the track. She has placed in all three starts and looks good value having earned £3,968 already. There’s still some shares left in her and I seriously consider investing, before I get back to the task at hand.
Menalippe is the third horse owned by the syndicate. She is a bay filly sired by Bungle Inthejungle out of Scarlet Wings. As a 2-year-old, she has raced 7 times and earned £2,966 in prize money. She ran well at Kempton Park last time out on the all-weather, finishing a creditable third. She is entered for the 1.40 Chantilly Nursery Handicap (Jockey Club Grassroots Nursery Series Qualifier) at Epsom on Tuesday, where she will be stepping up to 7 furlongs for the first time.
Dean and Oliver’s aim is to facilitate the process of ownership by diluting the cost and yet improving the ownership experience. They are striving to bring people together to experience the journey to its fullest and they were were very excited to start this process earlier this year. It’s an admirable philosophy.
As August draws to a close, Dean is already looking ahead. He is eyeing up the yearlings ahead of the Somerville Yearling Sale in early September. He has a shortlist based on the pedigree pages, he tells me excitedly. “Now we need to amend the shortlist based on their appearance.”
I have a look through the lots on sale at Tattersalls and develop a hunch about which yearlings he might be interested in. I wish him luck for the auction and we go on to discuss their trainer, James Ferguson. It’s clear Dean and Oliver have a great deal of faith in him.
“We were introduced to James Ferguson through a family member who has worked with James in the past when he was assistant at Sir Mark Prescott’s yard. James has worked in similar roles with Charlie Appleby, Brian Meehan and Jessica Harrington. We believed this extensive experience would stand James in good stead going forward and this has certainly proved to be the case. He is already a Group One winner with El Bodegon, and he has an ever growing yard full of quality horses.”
“James is a conscientious, young, ambitious trainer and his approach to training is methodical, strategic and thorough. His strike rate is phenomenal and our first horse with James, an Adaay colt named Aristobulus, won 2 of 5 races as a two year old. We later sold him for 4 times his purchase price! We hope for further success with our new fillies in the forthcoming season.”
Dean and Oliver are open to the idea of owning National Hunt horses in the future. “Whilst we are currently concentrating on flat racing due to our association with James Ferguson, there is certainly no reason not to consider National Hunt racing in the future.”
As our chat draws to a close, Dean lays out his aims for the forthcoming season. “Our aims are first and foremost to have lots of fun. We will strive to share this with others and offer shares in well considered horse purchases and provide a personable, affordable option to race horse ownership.”
I realise that my tea has gone cold and a couple of hours have passed since I sat down to start writing. I have already been on a journey. Dean’s enthusiasm is infectious and I can understand why people are keen to buy into his vision for Hasmonean Racing.
Inspired by the name of their first syndicate horse, Astrobulus, Hasmonean Racing takes its name from the ruling dynasty of Judea and surrounding regions from c.140 BCE to 37 BCE. Whilst the Hasmonean rule ended long ago, sporting their yellow, black disc, black and yellow striped sleeves and white cap silks, Hasmonean Racing aims to create their own legacy in the racing world.
If you would like to find out more about Hasmonean Racing, visit the website: www.hasmoneanracing.com. You can also follow them on Twitter @HasmoneanRacing.