Victoria-based startup MiRunners is giving the average Australian a chance to own a champion racehorse for just $165, something most punters at the races would only dream about.
MiRunners executive chairman Chris Ryan, who also runs trainee-owner communication platform MiStable, hopes the platform will “address the difficulty of attracting owners” for racehorses, while bolstering crowd participation numbers at the races, which have been “falling off” in recent years.
“You’re buying in to the experience of being an owner, and that journey all the way from the sale ring to the race track,” Ryan says.
Launched in December last year, MiRunners currently has one horse on its platform, a 2015 colt which is being trained by Kris Lees, who has been ranked in the top 10 trainers in Australia. It was purchased fopr $165,000 and its ownership divided in to 1,000 shares, each $165.
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The subscription-based MiRunners model sees customers pay $165 for one share in the racehorse, after which a $10 monthly subscription fee and an additional $5 monthly upkeep fee is charged. Buyers are not limited to just one share, but are able to buy multiple shares in the horse, with the horse’s top 10 shareholders getting on-course racing privileges.
Any winnings the horse makes is equally distributed among the 1,000 shareholders, with each share ranking equally.
Ryan also wants to “encourage people to buy a unit with friends and family”, contending that the “social spinoffs are enormous” when people feel personally invested in a racehorse.
“It’s an experience that should resonate with a much wider audience,” he says.
Ryan notes that the “traditional ownership paradigm” is nothing like this accessible and affordable model, but instead sees only “the top end of town” owning racehorses.
Traditionally, horse-racing syndicates cost thousands of dollars to participate in, and Ryan notes that the ratio of racing attendees to owners is extremely low.
“We did some market research and worked out only eight per cent of people interested in racing participated as an owner,” Ryan says.
The idea for a “crowdfunding for horses” model originally came from shareholders in Ryan’s MiStable business.
“They recognised that the affordability of high-level [racing] participation is out of most people’s reach,” he says.
“We thought, what if we could do something that was radically different?”
The platform has raised $1 million in funds from Adcock Private Equity and Artesian Capital, alongside private investors.
So far, MiRunners has seen people “subscribing on a daily basis” to shares in the horse, which is now one-quarter sold. The company is planning on purchasing more horses if the model proves successful.
“We are targeting the premium market – the sort of horses that the average person in their wildest dreams would never have access to,” Ryan says.