The Association of Irish Racehorse Owners, Promotes and Protects the Interests of Irish Racehorse Owners.

Acquiring a Racehorse

Once your trainer is appointed it is time to begin sourcing your potential champion! A great deal of thought is required here. A number of possible arrangements can be made from purchasing to leasing a horse. Circumstances differ from one owner to the next and it is worth exploring all the possibilities because as the saying goes horses for courses. Before attempting to purchase your horse we recommend that you:

  1. establish a budget considering training and administration fees
  2. preference for flat or national hunt
  3. preference for a horse that has run or an unraced/untried horse

There are five different ways to acquire your horse:

Trainer – Very often trainers would have horses for sale in their yard. This may be a young horse they have purchased or bred themselves, or a “tried” animal in the yard, a share in a current horse or possibly one they have to lease. Trainers are reluctant to let a good horse leave the yard. Remember it is in the trainer’s interest to get the best horse possible.

Bloodstock agent – Some owners favour the expertise of a bloodstock agent. On receiving your guidelines and budget details, an agent can source a horse for you either at public auction or privately. Agents charge a commission fee of around 5% of purchase value.

Public Auction – Ireland is recognised as a global leader in the breeding and sale of thoroughbreds and for this reason the bloodstock auction houses, Tattersalls (Co. Meath), Goffs (Co. Kildare) and Gorsebridge (Co. Kilkenny), often host the best attended sales in the world. All three venues host a wide variety of sales throughout the year ranging from Yearlings to untried national hunt horses or “Horses in Training”. We recommend a trip to the sales as a spectator as there is a lot to be learnt. Gorsebridge, Tattersalls and Goffs would be pleased to forward you a copy of catalogues for future sales.

Privately – Alternatively, you may wish to purchase a horse privately from an associate. Again we recommend expert advice is sought.

Leasing – You may wish to enjoy the thrill of ownership without the initial expense of buying a racehorse. Leasing can be an excellent introduction to racehorse ownership without the commitment of purchase. Again trainers and bloodstock agents will assist you in finding a horse to lease. HRI strongly recommend that a lease agreement is drawn up and suggest the following points are discussed therein:

• Duration of Lease.
• Option to Extend.
• Option to Purchase.
• Distribution of Prize Money.
• State Lessor and Lessee.
• Case of Injury.
• Veterinary fees.
• How is lease terminated, who can terminate,notice of termination.
• Lease fee.
• Method of payment ie: in advance or arrears monthly or annually.

Pre-Purchase Pointers - Before you embark on your search for the next Moscow Flyer or Nijinsky please consider the following: A horse that possess the three P’s, Performance, Pedigree, Physical will almost always incur an increased “fourth P” PRICE. The combination of these three qualities does not guarantee ability so don’t be discouraged. A horse does not know how much it cost and anyone involved will tell you there is a lot of luck required in racing! Remember to consider a healthy, correct (good confirmation and legs) animal with average breeding also. Like all athletes, horses have to be physically and anatomically correct as this will minimise the risk of injury. One of the most important aspects to purchasing a racehorse is to be certain that the animal has a clean Veterinary Certificate. It is similar to a survey on a house or NCT for a car. A veterinary inspection will automatically be carried out on horses at the public auction but it is recommended that another is carried out by your own vet also. Refer to the sale catalogue for further terms and conditions of sale. Your trainer is your adviser so do not hesitate to availof their expertise and ask questions to clarify any doubts or concerns you may have. If you are interested in learning more about purchasing and training horses, get involved in the purchase process and go to the sales or to private yards to view the horse prior to purchase. Just remember your trainer is the expert and they may also have other clients to assist on the day.


It is not compulsory to insure your horse and the decision is entirely down to personal choice. There are a number of insurance brokers who specialise in equine insurance and the official association contact details are available from HRI. Insurance for animals running on the flat can be around 8% with National Hunt hurdlers and chasers coming in anywhere at around 10% to 13% of the value of the horse.