History-making move by GPI

8 min read
Greg and Barb Ingham's GPI Racing has made headlines in recent weeks, firstly putting their 2019 Everest slot on the market, then securing the sale-topping weanling at the recent Inglis Weanling Sale.

GPI Racing takes a low key, private type of approach to the horse business but their recent bold decision to become the first slot holders to trade their prized berth in the world's richest turf race, The Everest, has placed them firmly in the spotlight of late.

It’s the first time in the two-year history of the $14 million event that a slot holder has made the choice to opt out and this week it was confirmed that Hong Kong-based owner of emerging Sydney trained sprinter Classique Legend, Boniface Ho, will take their place.

GPI Racing's Greg and Barb Ingham

Owned and run by husband and wife team, Greg and Barb Ingham, GPI Racing is a breeding and racing operation based just outside of Auckland and right next door to Westbury Stud where Barb, a highly accomplished horsewoman, worked as yearling manager for many years.

As part-owners of six-time Group 1 winner Chautauqua (Encosta de Lago) they jumped at the chance to be part of Sydney racing’s exciting new concept when it was first launched several years ago.

“Greg was always a firm believer in it and there was no way he wasn't having a slot,” said Barb.

“When we initially bought the slot, we had Chautauqua in mind. We thought he would be good for two or three years but it wasn’t to be,” added Greg.

“When we initially bought the slot, we had Chautauqua in mind." - GPI Racing's Greg Ingham

Greg Ingham with sprinting sensation Chautauqua

In 2017 Chautauqua took his place in the first ever running of The Everest (1200m) and in his customary style flew home to be beaten by only 1 1/2 lengths and finish fourth.

The “grey flash”, as he was fondly known, had only one more start at Flemington after that and then things then went famously awry with his barrier manners.

Slot for sale

Unable to pass a set of barrier tests set by Racing NSW and Racing Victoria stewards, Chautauqua was subsequently banned from ever competing in a race again. That left GPI with the challenging task of filling the spot with a suitable candidate last year.

“It’s quite stressful trying to find the horse and get the deal that suits you and suits the owners, there’s a lot of risks,” said Greg.

“There were a lot of changes last year and we had to be on the ball for any change that might happen so when you do a contract with an owner you have got to make sure you have clauses you can change if a horse loses form and in the case of us, we did and we were lucky we found Le Romain.”

“It was a long few months negotiating and a lot of work last year.”

Le Romain ran in GPI Racing's slot in the 2018 Everest

The Kris Lees trained warhorse finished a creditable fourth for GPI. But this year they have decided not to roll the dice again in The Everest.

“It was Barb’s idea to make the slot available for someone to pick up for 2019. She approached Arthur Inglis with the idea at the running of the 2018 Everest and was very keen to ensure that we were the first slot holders to do so and test the waters so to speak,” said Greg.

"We are both extremely excited to have been able to give another ownership group the opportunity to be part of The Everest concept for 2019." - Greg Ingham

"We are both extremely excited to have been able to give another ownership group the opportunity to be part of The Everest concept for 2019. I think the horse is a huge chance and we wish the ownership group and connections all the very best. We are sure they will thoroughly enjoy the 'Everest' experience.”

Weanling sale prize

GPI, which stands for Gregory Peter Ingham, is heavily focused on building the quality of their racing and breeding stock and that was illustrated at this week’s Inglis Australian Broodmare and Weanling Sale. They struck hard in the sales ring with Andy Williams purchasing the I Am Invincible (Invincible Spirit) x Srikandi weanling filly on their behalf for $600,000. It’s the most expensive Inglis weanling sold in 10 years.

The I Am Invincible x Srikandi weanling purchased for $600,000 at the Inglis Weanling Sale

She’s the ultimate pin-hooking opportunity and is now likely be prepared for the 2020 Inglis Australian Easter Yearling Sale. They also bought her half-sister by Snitzel (Redoute’s Choice) at the Magic Millions Yearling Sale and she will be trained by Snowden Racing.

"Items like this that come up for public auction are very rare so to secure her for our program was a big boost." - Bloodstock agent Andy Williams

Andy Williams, who works very closely with GPI on the development and execution of its bloodstock strategy, says it was a coup for the business to have been able to secure such a high calibre young horse.

“We are very happy to secure her. Items like this that come up for public auction are very rare so to secure her for our program was a big boost. I think she was really well bought at that bracket,” said Andy.

Plans for her are not set in concrete with the group preferring to keep their options open over the coming months.

“We are going to go through motions and see how she develops. I’d love to keep her and race her but also if she absolutely explodes and turns into a serious filly and there’s money to be made then we will consider that. If not, she can be an asset to any racing structure,” he said.

Andy Williams works closely with GPI Racing on their bloodstock strategy

Long-term strategy

Andy, whose history with Barb goes back to childhood days in New Zealand, says he enjoys working with GPI because of their patient approach.

“It’s slow and steady wins the race which is fantastic. They are very patient in what they do.”

GPI has built an enviable portfolio of racing and breeding stock including shares in Arrowfield's champion sentimental stallion Snitzel.

“It is indescribable the feeling you get being part of such a great stallion and watching his progeny on the track,” said Greg.

GPI also has an interest in Snitzel’s young gun barn mate Dundeel (Redoute’s Choice), Scissor Kick (Redoute's Choice), and Showtime (Snitzel), a new addition to the Arrowfield roster.

At home in New Zealand, they are shareholders in Westbury Stud’s Reliable Man (GB) (Dalakhani {Ire}) which sired New Zealand Oaks winner Sentimental Miss (NZ) and Group 1 producer El Roca (Fastnet Rock). They also bred and raced Group 1 Randwick Guineas winner Inference (So You Think) which stood his first season at Victoria's Chatswood Stud last Spring.

GPI Racing includes a share in Arrowfield stallion Dundeel in its portfolio

Together, Greg and Barb also raced the dam of Inference, Pontiana (Redoute's Choice), and sold her yearling colt by Pierro (Lonhro) at the 2018 Inglis Australian Easter Sale last year for $1,050,000.

At the recent Inglis Australian Easter Yearling Sale GPI bought four horses that they'll race in partnership with their close friend Tony Santic's Makybe Racing along with a new overseas investor. Included in their Easter haul were two Snitzel fillies, a daughter of Zoustar (Northern Meteor) and a Dundeel colt.

"We have developed a good relationship with Tony Santic and raced quite a few horses with him. From here on in, we are very particular about who we race with. We share the same passion and vision and everyone is on the same page."

A passionate team

Their current racing interests extend beyond Australia and New Zealand. Greg and Barb enjoy racing horses in Singapore and have formed a solid relationship with one of the region’s top trainers Shane Baertschiger. One of their biggest wins together was the 2016 Group 2 Golden Horseshoe (1200m) with I've Got a Feeling (Encosta De Lago).

"We have worked really hard from the beginning to build a good brand. We don't want to go into it half-hearted and we work with people who want to work with us and deal with us, people we trust and value and that care as much about it as we do."

"We are both very hands-on and enjoy being involved with good people." - Greg Ingham

"We are both very hands-on and enjoy being involved with good people. We have a great group of people around us who are as dedicated as we are and enjoy the journey of breeding and producing nice young horses."

Part of the passionate team, Andy Williams and Greg Ingham

"We have been making money out of it over the last few years which is not easy when you have so many horses," laughed Greg.

It is very clear Greg and Barb love their racing and breeding, the shared interest and passion bonds them together as a couple and has helped shape GPI into the success story that it is today.

"All we do is talk horses, we go to sleep talking horses and wake up talking horses," said Barb.

"It’s insane. If we are not talking horses, we are thinking horses," added Greg.

Between them, Greg and Barb have 68 horses and for now they’re happy to let them do all the talking for them on the racetrack and in the breeding barn.