An Interview with Co-Owner Steve Chick
Steven Chick, nicknamed Chicky, is a Director of an MOT station based in Cheltenham and is involved in racehorse ownership through various racing partnerships. Born and bred in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, Steve, 57, was bitten by the racing bug from childhood, frequently visiting his local racecourse as a boy. He loves everything about owning shares in racehorses, from the mornings on the gallops to the race days. Steve owns recent winner Rocco Royale and formerly Hang Tough, Rocked Up and Shantou’s Melody. ‘I’d like to thank everyone with whom I’ve been involved within racing,’ through Jackdaws Castle from Jonjo, the jockeys to Joe O’Neill from the office, everyone has helped me all of the way’ reflects Steve.
Steve lives in Kemerton, which isn’t far from his hometown, with wife Shirley Ann. They have grownup children Hollie, Declan, Billy and Bonnie. In addition, they have dogs Harry, Millie and Drooper and Noodles the cat.
What is your first racing memory? It is going to Cheltenham races in the mid-1970s with my Dad when I was a young boy. I remember in ’78-9, standing in front of the Arkle Bar at Cheltenham and being near to David ‘The Duke’ Nicholson, Fred Winter, a very young Nicky Henderson and Mercy Rimmell. I was immediately smitten and often dreamt of owning a racehorse.
How did you get into racehorse ownership? It was around November 2018 and I was pressganged into it by fellow owner Tim Milvain. He invited me up to Jackdaws Castle to meet Jonjo and Jacqui O’Neill about taking over the work as yard mechanic, as Tim was retiring. I was so embarrassed as I turned up in my work clothes, thinking I was going to talk shop… But no, I was taken straight to the owners’ room by Joe O’Neill. If I said I had some strange looks, I wouldn’t be lying. After a few glasses of champagne, I bought shares in Hang Tough. All I had to do is tell my wife, who had warned me not to buy any shares. From that day, I saw a different side to racing and I met two more heroes Jonjo and ex-jockey Johnny Kavanaugh, who is head lad there. What a day!
After about eleven months of bliss, I bought into Shantou’s Melody, a lovely gelding by Shantou and out of Glen’s Melody. I got a bank loan to buy my first 10% and raised another 5% and another 5% with the help of my credit cards. I kept texting Joe, telling him I want more shares; I think he thought I’d gone mad. That was it: I was in love with this ownership game.
In May 2021, I sold my VW Split Screen camper van, paid off my loans and the credit cards, and bought 50% of a Westerner mare, Rocked Up, who I loved. I have recently bought 10% of Rocco Royale with some lovely owners. In particular, Eric Chapman, who has helped me navigate my way through racehorse ownership from Hang Tough’s first race at Warwick (my first runner) – he’s a true gentleman.
What is your best day as an owner so far? Hang Tough giving me my first winner in the hands of Brian Carver, it was also the day I actually told Jonjo I loved him (hahaha). My wife’s most emotional day was when Shantou’s Melody ran at Cheltenham in the bumper at the October meeting during the time of Covid. She knew it was my dream to have a Cheltenham runner. Seeing him swinging on the bit, coming down the Cheltenham hill is one of the greatest feelings I have ever had, and one of those things I dreamt about as a child.
Yet, at Market Rasen on a sunny Sunday last July, when I saw Rocked Up win a maidan novices’ hurdle and being in the winner’s enclosure when Jonjo O’Neill Junior walked in on her. It was heart wrenching and a day of pure joy, especially when Jonj touched his cap and winked at me – it was brilliant.
What is the inspiration behind your design of colours? They are a mix of the jumper of Keith Flint of The Prodigy and Firestarter fame as well as Flagship Uberalles’ American flag colours.
Flint's infamous jumper
Which racehorse would you most like to own? My favourite racehorse is One Man, Gordon Richard’s legend. When he won the Champion Chase, I just melted.
Which is your favourite racecourse? I’ve enjoyed all of the racecourses I’ve been to, but I just love Stratford. The sandwiches in the Owners’ and Trainers’ are the best in the country.
Which race would you most like to own the winner of? The Champion Hurdle. To own the winner of it would be a dream and I’ve watched so many great winners of it over the years.
In your opinion, what does racing do well? The horse welfare is brilliant and so is the camaraderie – National Hunt people stick together and there’s a mix of all sorts of people, rich and poor. There’s also camaraderie in all the work of the Injured Jockey Fund and Jack Berry have done for the people within racing.
And where could improvements be made? In my opinion, bookmakers and the totes should put more money back into the racecourses and increase the prize money. The Tote at Chester and Bangor put all the profits back into the racecourse, regulating the prices of food and drink as punters elsewhere are getting ripped off.
Is there any advice you can give to other would-be racehorse owners? Make sure you have a good bank manager (hahaha). Joking apart – go and do it. Racehorse ownership is the best thing I ever did. The people you meet on the way are fantastic. Also, once you’re on the inside and see what goes on, certainly with the horse welfare, is heart-warming. Get yourself off to Jackdaws Castle and buy yourself a share!
What is the best aspect to owning racehorses in a syndicate? I think racehorse syndication is a great thing for people who like getting involved in the sport, but I think, partnerships are the right way to go. You don’t lease a share; you own a share. There’s a lot of difference when you get to the racecourse. I am involved with three partnerships where I’ve met some great new friends.
What is your racing dream? I’m in it. I have had five winners in four years. I’ve seen one of them run round Cheltenham. All are trained by my childhood jockey hero. I don’t think I could have made this dream up. A future dream is to see my colours run at Cheltenham one day.