Galway and Goodwood festival weeks can often see horses run more than once, frequently with fruitful results, and last month’s action on the South Downs proved ultimately glorious for ROA member Omar Jackson.
Novus, his three-year-old daughter of Dandy Man, finished a good but frustrating second on the opening day of the meeting, but the filly and Tom Queally returned just 48 hours later for another bite of the cherry and this time, drawn better and on softer ground, got the job done by the same threequarters- of-a-length margin she had been denied by first time round.
The occasion ranks as one of the early highlights of Jackson’s time as a racehorse owner, but it should not be the last as he only turned 32 in the summer, while ambition and competitiveness have always driven both his professional and sporting lives.
“I’ve loved horses since I was young, and always had a passion for them,” says Jackson. “I’m a racing driver, for Ferrari in the GT series, so I have a passion for racing, and horseracing is a competitive sport that is about precision and margins, so similar to motorsport in that regard.
“I’ve an affinity for those kinds of things. I’ve got three cats, two dogs and two horses in Dubai, where I’ve lived for the last 11 years. I ride myself and I like animals.”
But while horses have been a longstanding part of his life, owning racehorses is a relatively new pursuit.
Jackson explains: “Even though I ride horses, I’d never thought about owning a racehorse until a business partner of mine put the idea in my head by asking if I’d ever thought about it. That was in early 2021. If you do have a passion for horses, once you get your first racehorse it becomes quite addictive.
“This business partner has a couple of friends who knew a couple of trainers, Gary Moore and one in the north. I live in Dubai but am from west London, so it made sense to go for a stable in the south.
“I arranged a meeting with Gary and his wife, Jayne, and went to the stables to visit them in the summer of 2021. They’re just lovely people, and that’s what drew me into the sport. They have a very family-oriented set-up and I really like that.
“Gary treats me very well. I told him about my ambition when it came to horseracing, and where it clicked between the two of us was that he very much shared that ambition. He has the same goals for himself.
“Obviously Gary was a jump jockey and most of his horses are jumpers, but he hasn’t quite got to where he wants to on the Flat. More of his recommendations would be as a trainer of jumpers rather than on the Flat, but I’m not interested in that at all. I just want sprinters, speed.”
While he has bred arguably the best Flat jockey on the circuit, son Ryan, Moore has yet to train a winner on the Flat above Group 3 level, with Karinga Bay’s triumphs in that grade coming all of 20 years ago, and Dutch Masterpiece being his most recent in 2013. Maybe the partnership with Jackson will see that long gap bridged.
“I’ve got three horses with him,” says Jackson. “I wanted to buy them as yearlings, so we went to the sales. We bought Novus at one auction and OJ Lifestyle at another. They were in 2021 and then last year I bought another colt, Give It To Me OJ, who hasn’t made his debut yet.
“Well, I actually had no idea Gary had bought him for me; he called me up and said, ‘Omar, I’ve got to tell you something, I hope you’re not annoyed, I’ve bought you a third horse, he was too good to turn down’. I was like, ‘No worries!’
“Novus was by far the cheapest and the one we expected least from, so she has surpassed all expectations with three wins and two second places from nine races. She prefers soft or heavy ground, so also ran well to be sixth of 29 at Royal Ascot on good to firm. She’s just all heart and has been magnificent.”
Novus also ran on Coral-Eclipse day at Sandown between appearances at the summer shindigs of Ascot and Goodwood, again acquitting herself well to be second, and her success at Glorious Goodwood saw her mark rise 6lb to 92.
“I come over as often as I can to see the horses run,” continues Jackson, a partner at Berkeley Assets and an entrepreneur with his own business interests in private equity and his own brand, OJ Lifestyle.
“Novus seems to love Goodwood. She’s done a grand job there this year with two wins and a second from three runs. We’ll try to get some black type with her.
“In terms of magical moments so far, there are two that stand out. One was Novus’s last win at Goodwood, where she got shut out during the race, the door was closed and she had no room to manoeuvre, yet she still had enough heart to fight back and go on to win. That was awesome to watch.
“The other moment was OJ Lifestyle’s second run last year, when he was 125-1 at Newbury but caused a shock by beating the odds-on favourite by a nose. It was the first time I’d been racing as an owner, and OJ Lifestyle went and did that, so that was a truly memorable day.”
On the best or more frustrating aspects of owning racehorses, he says: “The pros for me are the journey, watching the horse grow, develop, go through training, improve their handicap mark and race in higher grades for better prize-money. I’ve had offers for both horses, and also love it because, among your peers, friends and family, not many people own winning racehorses and so you can get people interested who otherwise wouldn’t be interested in racing. I really like that aspect.
“As for cons, I’m passionate about racing, competitive, I like to win. When Novus ran at Glorious Goodwood, a couple of days before her win, she was joint-favourite and should have won. She had a bad draw, a lazy start and when she finished second we were really annoyed. If you’re competitive and eager to get the right result, it can be frustrating to watch.
“The difference from being in a racing car is there is nothing you can do about it. As a racing driver I’m used to being able to do something about it. In this sort of situation, I can do nothing.”
Whether Novus, OJ Lifestyle or Give It To Me OJ will ever be comparable to a Ferrari remains to be seen, but their owner is nonetheless enjoying the ride with this different kind of horsepower.