THE BLOG

Grand Plans - A Racing Dream

17/04/2013 13:14 BST | Updated 16/06/2013 10:12 BST

In the lead up to the Scottish Grand National, I discover you don't have to be mega-rich to have a share in a racehorse.

Jane Allen doesn't look like your regular mega-rich racehorse owner. Far from it.

The 50-year-old is a lifelong fan of racing and lives in a suburban semi in Doddington, Lincoln.

Yet her love for the 'sport of kings' has led to her to join a racing syndicate which has enabled her to be part of the magic of a winning team. From watching Ffestiniog romping home in the EBF Novice Fillies' Stakes at Ascot (now remembered as Elite Racing Club's best brood mare) to cheering on the remarkable Soviet Song in the EBF Median Auction Maiden Fillies' Stakes at Kempton, Jane has joined the 'Elite' Club.

'When I was growing up it was something I had always dreamed of,' she says.

'If you are interested in horses you can go where the affluent men and women are, but you don't have to be wealthy. I was fascinated in horse racing and this was the nearest I could get to owning a race horse. It is simple to join and, for me, it's a positive thing - I've travelled all over the country watching horses and meeting people.'

Jane is living proof that horse racing is no longer an exclusive club, open only to the rich and famous, the domain of flash cars and private helicopters. Horse racing is galloping into a new era, with many racing enthusiasts themselves buying shares in horses and becoming the owner, or part-owner, of their own horse.

For less than half the price of a pair of Manolo Blahniks, being part of Britain's all-time most successful racing club is a thrill in itself and the investment adds a whole new dimension to race-going.

The concept is simple, members pay an affordable 12 months subscription fee and in return share the fun and excitement of following the progress of a string of racehorses, via a weekly newsletter. In addition, they share an equal division of the race prize money won by the horses and a host of other benefits.

Jane is a growing group of women who enjoy the buzz of a previously male dominated world. There is the thrill of winning, of course, but also that sinking feeling when the horse throws the jockey.

Watching one of the horses run in a race is truly special and when the horse is first past the winning post, the experience is complete.

Jane adds: 'But the anticipation in the days leading up to a race, seeing what the pundits have to say and being in the owners bar with everyone, is something else.

'When it comes to the off, the adrenaline rush is immense, no matter where they finish, there is no feeling like it, just to see your colours thundering down the track.'

Racing, as a whole, is changing, it is trying to modernise and get more people involved. It's not just about going to the races, most people with shares get enjoyment from going to the yard, watch the training and seeing how things work. It's certainly not about making money.

Elite have increased the pool of their talented trainers with the addition of Andrew Balding and Kevin Ryan. They also have an established breeding programme which keeps the members enthusiasm alive.

One of Jane's highlights was witnessing New Seeker win the Britannia Stakes at Royal Ascot.

'I watched from the Balcony in the Royal enclosure not thinking he had a chance because of his draw. As I heard the crowd cheering at the finish, the moment was entrancing, surreal. My heart simply full of pride.'

For Jane, and others like her, it gives them a chance to live out their dream. Who can lame them? If a win doesn't happen at Saturday's Coral Scottish Grand National at Ayr, there's always the next race...or the one after that.