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James Harron Q and A - Bloodstock and Syndication

8 min read
TDN Aus/NZ's Bren O'Brien recently caught up with James Harron to chat through the development of the bloodstock and syndication aspects of his business.

James Harron Bloodstock, which focuses on colts, stallion brokerage and breeding portfolios continues to develop while on the fillies' side, JHB Syndications is also growing its profile with sponsorship of Saturday's G2 Golden Pendant at Rosehill.

Bren O'Brien: You've developed an interesting business, tackling the colts and fillies markets in different capacities. Talk us through the components of the James Harron business.

James Harron: At the core of the bloodstock business is our colt partnership, where we buy a number of yearling colts at public auction, with the aim of developing them into stallion prospects and all of these colts go into training with Peter and Paul Snowden.

Colts who may not make it to the elite level are traded to on sale markets and we are pleased to have sold a number of subsequent winners, domestically and in both Hong Kong and Singapore. Another major focus of the bloodstock business is the management of a number of elite breeding and racing portfolios, the majority of which are for owners who are also a part of the colt group. There are great synergies in terms of generating stallion equity to support broodmare bands.

This focus on colts, stallion brokerage and breeding portfolios is entering a hugely exciting stage this year. We brokered the stallion deal on Pierro (whose son Rome we are looking forward to cheering on in the Breeders’ Plate next week as a representative of the JHB colt group). Firmly establishing himself as an elite stallion and yearling purchase, Foxwedge is also doing a great job with his first few crops of runners.

Pierro

Coming through we have another yearling purchase in Wandjina, whose first runners at the trials have been very promising, Vancouver having his first yearlings selling in January, yearling purchase Capitalist siring outstanding foals and yearling purchase Pariah entering stud at Arrowfield with a stellar book of mares booked to him, a number of which are from owners within our colt partnership.

Given the focus on colts for the bloodstock arm of the company, JHB Syndications, which is a public syndication company, is focused solely on fillies to avoid any conflicts and takes advantage of the great value that can be found at the sales for the running style of filly which we are targeting.

We have linked JHB Syndications with some of the leading trainers throughout Australia, namely David Hayes and Tony McEvoy in Victoria alongside Brad Widdup and Gary Portelli in New South Wales.

Capitalist has been siring outstanding foals this season, including this filly out of JHB Magic Millions mare purchase, Strawberry Field

B O'B: What was the rationale to expand into syndication?

JH: Australia has always been a market leader when it comes to syndication, and there are some fantastic people operating within this space.

Over the last few years we have had a number of enquiries with regard to getting involved with ownership and creating JHB Syndications was our answer to facilitate this demand. In terms of the target horses, at the sales I was often finding myself commenting ‘nice running filly’ and seeing these go through at very affordable prices and very much felt that targeting this type of filly would be a great complement to the main bloodstock company.

"Australia has always been a market leader when it comes to syndication, and there are some fantastic people operating within this space. " - James Harron

Most interesting has been the response from large, established owners who have also been keen to come aboard and get involved with the JHB Syndications fillies, recognising the value in professional selection and management alongside the attraction of spreading their investment in a more diverse fashion - a pattern I hope will continue to grow and strengthen.

B O'B: How important is the syndication model for building the next generation of thoroughbred owners?

JH: I think it is crucially important for the industry to get syndication right. It is important to recognise that syndication is as important to everyone involved as outright ownership and our aim with JHB Syndications is to give people the full ownership experience whether they have a 2.5% share or a 25% share. We are proud that by diligently scouring the market, we are able to offer share prices that are very affordable, starting at around $2,000 and give everybody the chance to race a horse with one of Australia’s best trainers.

What we are finding is that people are enjoying getting involved with a few horses and spreading their risk across a few trainers, which I think is a great way of building a nice portfolio and having fun alongside plenty of racing action.

"I think it is crucially important for the industry to get syndication right. It is important to recognise that syndication is as important to everyone involved as outright ownership." - James Harron

While syndication can naturally be a great and important gateway for people to get more heavily involved in ownership, our absolute focus is to provide a complete and professionally-managed ownership experience through syndication and, of course, the main focus of getting winners!

Watch: JHB Syndications Owner Insights

B O'B: How do you educate prospective owners about syndication and get them on board?

JH: We very much operate an open door policy and are always happy to take people behind the scenes, whether that be at the yearling sales, to track work, or a day at the races. In addition to that, we run a number of events through the year where our focus is very much on giving people a look at just how much preparation and work goes into the process of getting a horse to the racetrack.

For us, ownership is just as much about the journey as it is about the destination and we have found that people are fascinated by learning as much as they can along the way. Our job is to provide as much as we can in this regard as there is never such a thing as too much information for owners - whether good, bad or indifferent! We also very much take an approach of spending time with people on the way in and giving them the full picture of what they are getting in to. It is not just about the quick sale now, but more about developing people for a long-term future in this great sport.

We believe in being completely transparent, which I think is crucial at all levels of ownership as nothing will sour an experience and reinforce the perception of racing being a closed shop more quickly than over-promising and under-delivering.

A group of JHB Syndications owners celebrating a win after Dark Confidant (Pierro) breaks her maiden at Cranbourne

"For us, ownership is just as much about the journey as it is about the destination and we have found that people are fascinated by learning as much as they can along the way." - James Harron

B O'B: I believe you are sponsoring a race this Saturday, the Golden Pendant, how hard is to get prominence as a syndicator in the current landscape? What does a race sponsorship do for that?

JH: There’s great competition in the syndication space, which speaks volumes about the overall strength of the industry here in Australia, and the fantastic appetite for horse ownership, so we are always looking for ways to stand out. Our sponsorship of the Golden Pendant is part of a broader partnership with the ATC, which will see us produce a series of educational videos, taking people behind the scenes of racehorse ownership as another facet of our aim of educating and de-mystifying the whole process.

B O'B: Back to the broader James Harron brand, your involvement as an The Everest slot holder is a good example of the business' commitment to think about ideas outside the square, is there anything on the horizon which sits outside your traditional core business?

JH: My focus with the company has been to build a great, dynamic team of people with the skill sets to rise to any challenge, and I am confident that we have achieved that. Alongside the JHB team we have a tremendous group of owners involved with the colts, who have always got behind our visions and have been justly rewarded with some great success on the race track and the sales ring.

JHB Syndications is the newest challenge that our team has taken on, and I am looking forward to seeing this project through to similar success that we have had in the colt and breeding portfolio projects, both of which are crucial cornerstones to the ongoing story of JHB.

Vega Magic holds the JHB Slot in this year's, The Everest