PUNTERS at the Mornington Racing Club erupted, Monday, when the Tony Noonan-trained Beleura Belle crossed the line first in Race 3, The Eliza Dry Cleaners Plate. And it’s not hard to understand why …
The three-year-old is owned by residents of two retirement villages – Beleura Village in Bungower Rd and Peninsula Grange Village in Racecourse Rd – as well as a group of mums from St Thomas More’s Primary School, Mt Eliza.
About 100 Social Syndicate members were on course to cheer her on – with their financial support also probably bringing down her odds to even-money favourite in the six-horse race.
It seemed everyone trackside was on a winner. So great were numbers that, after the race, the owners’ room proved too small for the trophy presentation and arrangements had to be made to do the honours elsewhere.
“The social owners became involved through a program that Mr Noonan developed where groups with a ‘commonality’ of interest – such as social clubs or retirement villages – are able to lease a horse for as little as $10 each a month and enjoy all the social aspects of racing and the thrill of winning,” Tony Noonan Racing business manager Gemma Lambe said.
Part-owner Carol Rooke, of Beleura Village, couldn’t agree more: “It’s been absolutely unbelievable for us oldies,” she said, after watching Beleura Belle’s race-day success at its fourth start.
“We are delighted that it involves so many residents; it’s been a great concept.”
Mr Noonan introduced the social syndicates after success a decade ago with the KSC Syndicate. “They were a terrific group with a filly called Bionic Bess, which was probably the best filly I have been involved with,” he said.
“They enjoyed the fun of race day and I could see the potential of the social syndicates as an affordable option.”
Now that he is not involved in training “big numbers of horses”, Mr Noonan found he had time to present the concept to various groups, such as local retirement villages, and “things have gone on from there”.
“It’s turned out exactly as I hoped,” he said. “I’m confident in the ‘product’ and the owners are confident they are being looked after.”
Mornington Racing Club admits it’s onto a good thing, too. “Having more people involved in owning a racehorse makes it more affordable – and it certainly brings more people to the course,” general manager Stephen Bell said.
“Tony [Noonan] has been proactive in this regard and he’s now reaping the rewards.
“We’ve had a massive increase in attendance, especially for a Monday meeting, and the groups have generated lots of atmosphere and excitement even early in the day.”
Beleura Belle’s $9000 prize money would not have been much money after being divided up among so many owners and deducting the trainer’s and jockey’s fees, but it can add up.
Word has it that the mums from St Thomas More Primary have been able to put aside $2000 for other social activities. And that’s on top of the fun they had watching Beleura Belle salute the judge.
Mrs Rook said the 40 members of her syndicate met once a month and “enjoyed it so much”.
“For the small amount we’ve put in it’s been wonderful and created such a sense of community,” she said.
Half of her 40-member group attended the Mornington race for “their” filly’s first win. “She was ‘on the brink’ last time; it’s a learning curve.
“She was the favourite [Monday] but she’ll always be at short odds because there’s so many of us backing her in syndicates.”