RegulationApr 13 2023

FCA stops troubled DFM boss’s racehorse from competing

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FCA stops troubled DFM boss’s racehorse from competing

A court order obtained by the Financial Conduct Authority means a racehorse part-owned by the boss of a DFM firm which was forcibly shut down by the regulator last week will not now race at Aintree today (Thursday 13 April).

Bravemansgame, a chaser that was second in the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March and is jointly owned by John Dance, whose firm Wealthtek was closed by the regulator last week, was scheduled to run in the Aintree Bowl race.

Initially it was declared only in the ownership of Dance’s partner Bryan Drew who jointly owns the horse, but subsequently the British Horse Racing Authority confirmed that the horse would not now run as a result of the court order. 

Dance, whose firm trades under Vertem and other brand names, has in recent years become one of the most prominent figures in British Horse racing.

Initially he got involved as an owner of flat racehorses, and had more than 40 in training. The average cost of having a flat race horse in training, according to the Racehorse Owners Association, is around £22,000 a year.

Having 40 horses in training would come with an estimated annual cost of over £700,000.

Dance enjoyed considerable success with a racehorse called Laurens, which won several major races between 2017 and 2019, and picked up prize money of around £1.7mn in her career. 

Dance’s firm, under the trading name Vertem, became sponsor of a prestigious trial race for the Epsom Derby in 2018. The trial race has a prize fund of £200,000 and is run at Doncaster.

In 2020 Dance announced he would be taking an indefinite break from racehorse ownership, but returned in 2021 when he bought a stables and employed James Norton to act as his private trainer. Norton has no runners entered into UK races in the coming weeks.

Norton had previously worked as assistant to Sir Michael Stoute who has trained horses for the British Royal Family. 

As part of this he acquired Middleham racing stables and stud farm in North Yorkshire. 

At this time Dance also became interested in jumps racing. This form of the sport is slightly lower cost, with the average training fee being around £16,000 a year.

One of the jump horses he co-owns is Bravemansgame, which was second in the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2023 and was among the favourites for the high-profile race at Aintree.

On April 6, the FCA announced that it had placed Wealthtek and its subsidiaries into what it calls “special administration”, and ordered it to cease all regulatory activities.

Wealthtek provided discretionary, advisory and execution only services to its retail clients.

As a consequence of the investigation, police in Northumbria arrested a 48-year-old man in connection with its enquiries.