Choose your horse

Choose your horse

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: 

  • Establish a budget, considering training and administration fees; 
  • Preference for flat or national hunt; 
  • Preference for a horse that has run or an untried/unraced horse.  

There are many different ways to acquire your horse:

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” horse 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.  

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 approximately 5% of the purchase value. 

Ireland is recognised as a global leader in the breeding and sale of thoroughbreds and for this reason the bloodstock auction houses, Goffs, Tattersalls Ireland and Goresbridge, often host the best internationally attended sales in the world.  All three venues host a wide variety of sales throughout the year, ranging from foals and yearlings to untried jumps horses or horses in training.  We recommend a trip to the sales, even if only as a spectator, to see the bloodstock marketplace in action.  ITM will be happy to send you catalogues for future sales. 

Alternatively, you may wish to purchase your horse privately.  Again, we recommend that expert advice, from your trainer and/or bloodstock agent, is sought. 

You may wish to enjoy the thrill of ownership without the initial expense of actually purchasing 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.  ITM strongly recommends that a lease agreement is drawn up and suggest the following points are discussed at that point – 

  • Duration of lease; 
  • Option to extend; 
  • Option to purchase; 
  • Distribution of prizemoney; 
  • State lessor and leesee;
  • Case of injury;
  • Veterinary fees; 
  • How is the lease terminated, who can terminate, notice of termination; 
  • Lease fee;
  • Method of payment, ie. in advance or arrears, monthly or annually. 

There are also a number of CLAIMING RACES in Ireland, from which you can literally “claim” a horse.  Your trainer can advise you on the process.   

Before you embark on your search for the next champion, please consider the following: 

A horse that possesses the three P’s; Performance, Pedigree and 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 in racing will tell you there is a lot of luck required! 


Remember to consider a healthy, correct (good conformation 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.  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 bloodstock agent or trainer is your adviser, so do not hesitate to avail of 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 bloodstock agent or trainer is the expert, and also they may have other clients to assist on the sales 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.  As a guideline only, insurance rates for horses running on the flat can be approximately 8%, with hurdlers and chasers coming in at approximately 10%-13% of the value of the horse.  For your convenience, there is a list of horse insurance and transport companies on this website.  

If it is your first time to purchase at a bloodstock sale, plus consult our First Time Buyers section, for some useful information. 

Step 3 - Get registered