Owning a racehorse has become a lot easier for the ordinary racing fan with the Hong Kong Jockey Club's new horse syndication system. The 25 trainers will each be given a special permit to buy a horse and syndicate it among current and prospective clients, in a radical departure from the traditional member-based permit system. Executive director of racing Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges said the concept had been approved in principle and a three-week consultative process with trainers would now begin. Syndication models from other racing nations, particularly Japan and Australia, would be studied. 'We want to give the trainers more opportunity to form a syndicate, of between five and 50 owners, who can join forces and buy the sorts of horses that can participate in the big races,' Mr Engelbrecht-Bresges said. Currently, the only way to race a horse is to become a member of the Jockey Club at a cost of $250,000 and win a prized permit in a draw. The owner often selects the horse and sends it to a trainer of his choice. But he may have to wait up to three years before his name comes out in the ballot because of the high demand for ownership permits, this season outstripping supply by some 200 per cent. 'At the moment, if a member decides to become an owner of a horse, and applies for a permit, it may take three years for their name to come out in the ballot,' Mr Engelbrecht-Bresges said. 'Then, they buy their horse and it might be another 11/2 years before it actually gets here and wins a race. So we feel the 41/2 years' time lapse between a potential owner getting that urge, and having it realised in this competitive environment is just too long. They are liable to lose interest and go off and do some-thing else.' Under the new system the trainer will have the management rights and be able to form a syndicate of up to 50 owners, who can become 'racing members' for $36,000. The Jockey Club is concerned at the way the top horses have polarised into the top stables. The new system gives the more unfashionable trainer a chance to buy a future champion - as he is not at the whim of an owner who prefers to send his horse to a more celebrated trainer. 'This is a significant structural change and we are delighted the racing committee has given it the green light,' Mr Engelbrecht-Bresges said.