Racing Post logo
Search icon
Menu icon
Menu icon
  • MoreChevron down
Gambling review

'We're going to be hammered by this' - syndicate founder Hughes to halve string with owners hit by affordability checks

Jon Hughes: reducing string due to the impact of affordability checks on owners
Jon Hughes: reducing string due to the impact of affordability checks on owners

A longstanding syndicator fears being “hammered” by the impact of affordability checks on his owners, and potential owners, leading him to make plans to slash the number of horses his group has in training by at least half.

Jon Hughes, founder of Owners For Owners, said the deepest cuts would be made to the syndicate’s jumps division due to concerns that there will not be enough people wanting to commit to multi-year ownership in the light of growing challenges being faced by punters.

The message from Hughes echoes the words from Harry Herbert, founder and managing director of the Highclere Thoroughbred Racing syndicates, who earlier this year said British racing could be "ripped to pieces" by the impact of intrusive affordability checks turning owners away from the sport.

During a Culture, Media and Sport select committee meeting last week, sports minister Stuart Andrew said the government recognised the “massive contribution” made by racing to Britain and added that there was “no way that we want to do anything to harm that”.

However, Hughes said the impact of the affordability checks already being imposed by bookmakers on bettors, under pressure from the Gambling Commission, was leading him to the inevitable conclusion that he needed to make significant cutbacks.

Hughes said: “What the minister said was marvellous, but I’m highly sceptical about it as what is happening at the moment is damaging racing and moving people on to the illegal gambling markets.

“I’d say 50 per cent of the people involved in my network are there because they like to gamble as part of their ownership. I’ve got one person in my network who is a fairly significant gambler who has won and lost seven-figure sums over the last ten years. He’s a big owner with me and he’s saying he will quit British racing as things stand and he’s not making an empty threat. If there’s no change in direction people like him are just going to leave – it’s plain and simple.

“It’s already the direction that I’m going, particularly with National Hunt horses, and we have made the decision to cut back by 50 per cent over the next three years. The fact is, if we are going to have trouble bringing in owners because of the impact of what people are already having to deal with around betting then that’s going to hit National Hunt because it’s more of a long-term commitment when you buy a horse to begin with. I fear we’re going to be hammered by this.”

Owners For Owners have full or shared ownership in 19 horses, headlined by Group 2 winner El Caballo, with a split of 80 per cent jumps and 20 per cent Flat, according to Hughes. That number would be closer to ten in three years and could drop down to five with the majority being Flat horses due to the more limited cost commitment, the owner added.

“I think it’s disgusting what’s happening – I get emotional and angry about this,” he said. “Horses have always been a part of my life ever since I was young, and I’m having to make these decisions now because of what is happening elsewhere.”

  • To complete the Gambling Commission's consultation on affordability checks, visit and follow the instructions.
  • The Racing Post also wants to hear from you: What has been your experience of affordability checks since the white paper was published at the end of April, and what do you think of the government's proposals? Have affordability checks affected your betting behaviour?
  • It's a chance for your voice to be heard. Email the Racing Post at with the subject 'Affordability checks' to share your experiences, your thoughts about the government's proposals, and your contact details.

Read more on the Gambling Review here:

'I've been betting for more than 40 years but people like me are just going to disappear'  

BHA hits back over Gambling Commission's claims that the black market threat is overstated 

These men know nothing about betting - but they're on a mission to ruin it for us anyway 

'I've been betting for more than 40 years but people like me are just going to disappear' 

Sign up to receive On The Nose, our essential daily newsletter, from the Racing Post. Your unmissable morning feed, direct to your email inbox every morning. 

Peter ScargillDeputy industry editor
Published on 12 September 2023Last updated 19:34, 12 September 2023