Owning a racehorse is the latest way for rich millennials to brag

<span>The thoroughbred auctioneer Goffs holds an annual sale at Kensington Palace Gardens.</span><span>Photograph: handout</span>
The thoroughbred auctioneer Goffs holds an annual sale at Kensington Palace Gardens.Photograph: handout

Henry Beeby has an enticing pitch for young super-rich tiktokkers and instagrammers. “Come to Kensington Gardens on the Monday, buy a racehorse and by the Tuesday you will be in the parade ring at one of the world’s most famous racecourses [Royal Ascot] alongside members of the British royal family and other royal families, with your own racehorse in your colours.”

Beeby, the chief executive of the thoroughbred racehorse auctioneers Goffs, said: “That is the dream we are selling,” as he summed up his pitch at a private event in Mayfair that promised to reveal the secret of “how to target the fastest-growing group of UHNWIs [ultra-high net worth individuals] – millennials”.

Beeby has worked in the racehorse industry for more than 40 years and reckons posh horse racing with its top hat and tails dress code and free-flowing champagne should be a natural fit for a growing number of wealthy young people who like to boast about their privileged lives on social media.

He said Goffs, which dates back to 1866, is targeting millennials because “they’ve got the money”, and they are about to become even richer as “the great wealth transfer” flows to children of an older generation of super-rich people who are expected to pass on a total of $70tn (£56tn) over the next 20 years.

“There’s nothing quite like the thrill of ownership,” Beeby said. “There’s nothing like seeing your horse and your jockey in your colours on the track, and – my word – if it happens to win and you can share that joy with your friends.

“That can only happen if you come to our London sale on the Monday before Royal Ascot starts on the Tuesday [18 June 2024], where we will have a suite of horses you can buy.”

At last year’s sale, which takes place on Perks Field, part of the normally private Royal grounds of Kensington Palace, Beeby sold 11 horses for a total of £3.8m.

The top lot was Givemethebeatboys, which sold to American father and son Neil and Con Sands for £1.1m. Givemethebeatboys did race at Ascot the next day, but the Sands family were denied their dream of entering the winners’ enclosure after the horse placed fourth in the Coventry stakes.

“We didn’t pay a fortune to have a horse at Ascot,” Neil Sands said at the time. “We paid a fortune to have a great horse – and we still have a great horse.”

Hayley O’Connor, Goffs’ head of international client relations, said: “They [younger people] are looking for a unique experience they can share on social media. They can share the experience from the race day, and the horse will have its own private cheerleading squad.”

Most people buying thoroughbred racehorses are of advanced years, but Beeby said the age is coming down as the sport attempts to increase diversity. “At the London sale, we have everyone from 18 to 81,” he said. Some of the firm’s biggest buyers last year were in their early 20s, he added.

The rise of fractional ownership has also made it easier for younger people to buy a share in a racehorse.

Cameron Sword, a 22-year-old business student at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, invested £3,700 in Corach Rambler as part of a seven-strong syndicate in 2020. The 10-year-old Irish-bred thoroughbred won last year’s Grand National, and was the favourite to win this year’s race on Saturday.

Sadly for Sword, his colleagues and many others betting on the former champion, Corach Rambler unseated his jockey at the first fence and failed to finish, limiting his race winnings to the £686,241 he has made so far in his career.