Interview with Team GBR rider Gemma Tattersall about the syndicate behind Arctic Soul - British Eventing
 
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Interview with Team GBR rider Gemma Tattersall about the syndicate behind Arctic Soul

   

Balcarres CCI2 winner Gemma Tattersall riding Artic SoulWhen the time comes for Gemma Tattersall and Arctic Soul to enter the dressage arena for their Senior Great Britain debut in the Longines FEI European Eventing Championships at Blair Castle, do not be surprised if tears and champagne are poured out in equal measure.

Two years ago, after a fourth-placed finish in the CCI three-star at Blenheim, Gemma found herself "heartbroken" by the news that Arctic Soul's owners Philip and Iona Kerr wanted to sell. Basically, she had three months to come up with a significant sum of money - or lose the ride.

Gemma would not have been alone in experiencing such a situation - it is a scenario many riders will have encountered - but what unfolded next was an inspirational story that looks set to have many more exciting chapters.

"He was fourth at Blenheim Palace in 2013, and that was when Philip Kerr said to me that he needed to sell," West Sussex-based Gemma recalled. "I was heartbroken. The horse was worth a fair amount of money by then, and I didn't know how we were going to keep the ride.

"A date was set, and I said I was going to try my hardest to get some owners together and buy him, which is not an easy thing to do when you are trying to find that sort of money. We had about three months, and although that sounds like a long time, it really isn't.

"Chris Stone (owner of William Fox-Pitt's 2015 Mitsubishi Motors Badminton winner Chilli Morning, among others) was absolutely brilliant and so supportive of me - I literally couldn't have done it without him. He said he would buy half the horse for me, which was a huge amount to start with, but we were still talking a lot of money to be put up to get the rest."

Put simply, Team Tattersall then went to work. "We did lots of advertising, fliers and things on the internet, and we got some lovely people who came in and bought 10 per cent and five per cent," she added.

"Then we did a raffle - I sold tickets to every single person I knew - and some of my owners bought 10 tickets at £50 each to help me. The prize was a five per cent stake in the horse, and one of my owners went and won it!

"There was also family - my uncle was amazing and lent me some money, as did my mother and father - while some more distant family bought a 10 per cent share and some other new owners to me bought 10 per cent and five per cent shares. It was just amazing, absolutely brilliant."

Growing in popularity
Syndicate ownership is becoming more and more popular in eventing, with Gemma and Arctic Soul not only living proof of its success, but the 30-year-old former under-25 national champion also believing it offers great sport, great fun and great friendships for the people involved.

"I think it is going to be a big week out for them at Blair. I think most of them are going," she said.

"My super young mare Quicklook is syndicated as well. We had a wonderful week in Aachen recently, when most of the owners came out and just had the most brilliant time. They all had champagne together and it has become a real social thing.

"To try and get people who perhaps aren't quite as wealthy involved in the sport, it is a much cheaper option.

"The way I do it is that I do a yearly fee. They don't get a monthly bill. I sat down with all my figures and my PA and worked out how much it costs, and they literally pay up-front at the start of the year and I run the horse from that account. It means it is so straightforward.

Gemma Tattersall (GBR) Arctic Soul
"When you've got a bunch of people together they all bounce off each other, and if there is a disappointment, well, they have a bottle of champagne anyway! I could not do what I am doing without my owners. They are so unbelievably important to me, and syndicating horses is becoming the way forward."

So, all roads are about to lead to Perthshire for The Soul Syndicate - a group that features Gemma, her mother Marcelle, Chris Stone, Linda Allan, Sarah Gibbs, Clare Chapman and Martin Bell - and excitement is mounting.

"The first year I had Arctic Soul (known as Spike in the yard), he went from something like 16 ranking points to 200, and that was when I realised I had a serious horse. I won the Balcarres two-star on him, and it was so deep in mud, but he kept finding and finding. He was amazing.

"We are chuffed to bits with the selection for Blair. He had really good form last year, and this year it has been a case of keeping that form up. He was third at Burgham CIC3* and then he went very well at Badminton."

Find out more about the Soul Syndicate. 

Read the EHOA's guide to forming a syndicate here.