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CAT, DOG or RACEHORSE? Comparing costs may surprise you.

10 Mar 17


Which is cheaper – To own a Fido or Fluffy or to own a 5% Share in a racehorse by Fastnet Rock, Redoute’s Choice, Snitzel, Lonhro, or similar champion sire, trained by Hall Of Fame Trainer GAI WATERHOUSE?


Stephen Koukoulas


The answers set out below by Mr. Stephen Koukoulas, one of Australia’s most well-known economists, may surprise you.

About Stephen Koukoulas
( aka “The Kouk” twitter: @thekouk   www.thekouk.com )

Stephen Koukoulas is the “go-to man” for many news programs around Australia for the ABC, Sky TV, radio and other news programs, the Canberra based economist is described by ABC financial journalist and newspaper editor Alan Kohler as “One of the most articulate economists in Australia.” Stephen can break down complex issues on the economy into easily understood commentary and analysis of the matter at hand.



Considered one of Australia's leading economic visionaries, few economists have both the global and local experience of Stephen Koukoulas.

Stephen with his unique background and knowledge has briefed Australia's Prime Minister on crucial economic policy issues, he has presented to over 35 central banks around the world, speaking to money managers who invest tens and hundreds of billions of dollars.

As a speaker, Stephen has been called upon to discuss the economy with audiences as diverse as heads of government and the corporate world, to Year 12 HSC economics students - an affirmation of his ability to turn complex economic analysis into terms the rest of us mere mortals can understand.

Clearly, he has a wonderful ability to be detailed, specific and complex on sophisticated aspects of the budget or financial markets but then can also explain what the daily run of economic news means for retail investors and small business owners.

His background covers the spectrum of economic insight - from his role as Chief Economist of Citibank, he spent 3 years in London heading global research for TD Securities and has been Senior Economic Advisor to an Australian Prime Minister.

In these economic times, Stephen combines tailored economic overview and analysis with a level of humour and engagement not usually associated with the economics.



Stephen is Managing Director of Market Economics Pty Ltd, a firm established in response to the growing need for independent and tailored macroeconomic analysis for business clients needing to convert economic data into financial market and policy risks. His work provides clients with unique insights into the macroeconomic policy debate.

Stephen is also an accomplished author with his own economic text “Myth Busting Economics – A no-nonsense guide to your money, your business and the Australian economy.”



Published in 2015 by John Wiley & Sons Australia Ltd, Chapter 10 of this text titled “Your Fun” discusses a comparison on pricing of ownership of a family pet to the ownership of a racehorse.

Both humorous and thought provoking, the analysis was on point and showed there was little difference in costs between owning Fido or Fluffy compared to a 5% Share in a racehorse.

On 18 January 201, Stephen compiled a follow-up article as to the financial and emotional costs and benefits of pet ownership in all its different forms and racehorse ownership with a Hall Of Fame Trainer.

Again this article drills down into various aspects and delivers some amazing insight.

Stephen is a client of Dynamic Syndications and owns shares in racehorses with us at Gai Waterhouse Racing.




STEPHEN KOUKOULAS (5th from right) Winners Circle


STEPHEN KOUKOULAS (back row with champagne!) Winners Room - Randwick






STEPHEN KOUKOULAS (tan jacket) listens in on post race report


STEPHEN KOUKOULAS (3rd from left) Winners Circle


Courtesy of Stephen, we re-publish below his recent article:

A Cat, Dog or a Racehorse?




Stephen Koukoulas
Managing Director
Market Economics


When I tell family and friends that I own a share in a couple of race horses, they are often aghast – “how much does that cost?” and  “You must have heaps of spare cash” or words to that effect.

Being an economist, I know pretty much exactly how much it will cost me each month to have a high quality racehorse spelled, trained, vetted, raced and looked after as it goes through the racing cycle.  And I note at the outset that the costs include the horses being trained by the wonderfully marvelous Gai Waterhouse, the Hall of Fame Champion trainer who has more accolades than I have had hot dinners – and that’s a lot!

The funny thing is that most of my friends own a cat or two, a dog or two or both cats and dogs and an array of other pets. Funny because it costs about as much to look after a cat or dog as it does owning a 5% share in a racehorse. My family own two cats and I know how much they cost to look after.

I must note and emphasise that the references below refer to the maintenance costs of horses, cats and dogs after they have been purchased. Most horses are undeniably expensive to buy into (commonly $5,000 to $10,000 or even a little more for a 5% share) which is clearly a lot more than a furry pet that sits on your lap or you take for a walk.

But read on and you’ll see what I am getting at.

According to the PETstock Pet Parent Survey, the average cost of owning a pet is $2,638 a year. This is for food, vet bills, kitty litter and all related expenses.

Owning a 5% share in an Exceed and Excel, Snitzel or Pierro filly or colt is … wait for it … about $3,000 a year which includes all costs – training, spelling, shoes, vet, racing fees – you name it.

This means that it is about $30 extra a month or about $360 a year to own a 5% share in a racehorse than it is to own a cat or a dog.

I will leave it to others to work out their non-financial preferences.  It is rewarding and heart warming to have your cat curl up on the lounge next to you or for you to throw a stick for you dog to chase and chase and chase. But it is also quite exhilarating to have the horse in which you a part owner charging down the straight at Randwick or Gosford or even Queanbeyan. It is also thoroughly exciting to track the horses progress to the racetrack, talk to Gai and her team, engage with world class jockeys before the race as they work out the tactics for the race ahead.

The costs that I noted above – the extra $360 a year to own a horse versus a cat or dog - assumes that the horse doesn’t win a cracker. Zero. Nothing. Not a brass razoo.

If, however, your horse happens to get a second in a Gosford maiden and a third in a Kembla Grange maiden, it earns about $9,000 in prize money which after costs means you get around $350 for your share after costs.  If it happens to do any better at all, you are financially better off than owning the horse than that sweet little cat or yappy big dog.

By the way, prize money for running first at an average mid-week Gosford race is $16,800, a Saturday race in town in Sydney has minimum prize money of $54,000 for first, $19,000 for second and a still welcome $9,000 for third. Snag a couple of these each year and you are clearly ahead. Then there are all the bonus prize money schemes available on top of the prizemoney.

You don’t have to have a champion to ensure it’s cheaper to own a share in a horse than a family pet. Yes - cheaper.

Given that the upkeep costs are clearly not an issue, it’s a question of whether you’d prefer to go to the races to see your horse run or have a cute little puppy or a fluffy kitten.


Disclosure:  I received no payment for this article.

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