The French word Eprouvez in English means to test, to prove. Eprouvez in horse racing means to prove owning a horse in a large syndicate can produce unbeatable fun.

When Eprouvez, the Matamata 3-year-old, upset a stylish field in the opener at Te Rapa on Saturday, the cheering from the grandstand was like a group one reception.

The weather was miserable, but the 40-odd of the 100 owners of the horse were on course witnessing their first racetrack success and letting everyone know about it.

"This is the greatest feeling I can imagine, seeing so many people absolutely going crazy," said trainer Graham Richardson.


The excitement going on in and just above the birdcage made Richardson look behind him as Eprouvez returned to the weigh-in and go: "Wow."

The idea of putting so many people into the ownership of one horse was from Richardson's wife Rochelle and Sonya Anderson, wife of Trackside presenter Daryyl Anderson.

"There are a lot of people who think owning a share in a racehorse is beyond their means and $2500 a month is beyond most people if the horse isn't producing. This way they can have all the fun at virtually no cost."

Eprouvez is raced by "His Syndicate", the concept being that the males raced one horse and their wives, partners or female friends race another.

"That way it creates a huge amount of interest among the two groups and there are any number of 'Hers Syndicate' members here in support today," said Richardson. "People go to the races for two reasons, to win either on the track or at the tote, or to meet people.

"There is no better way to meet people than to be part of a large syndicate and winning a race is the greatest thrill anyone can have."

Richardson has always had a decent opinion of Eprouvez, but the path to success has not been smooth.

"He's the toughest horse I've had in the stable for a long time. One of my staff Craig Rastrick has ridden him every morning and in the early days got a broken leg for his trouble.

"He could be very erratic and you don't mind that if they channel it into what they do raceday and this bloke has. He's a pretty fair horse, I've always thought he'd go through the grades."

Richardson says even naming the horses adds to the camaraderie.

"That in itself created a lot of competition and fun. It's another way for the syndicate members to get involved."

So successful have the two syndicates been, Richardson plucked a Per Incanto - Only Explosive filly from the Karaka sale ring earlier this year. "The all-up cost with GST and things is $22,000 and we've three-quarter filled it. She's developed into a lovely filly."

The only one who didn't enjoy Saturday's experience quite as much as the owners was Eprouvez himself.

"Just as he was about to walk into his weigh-in stall he looked up at the noise in the stand above him and said: 'What the hell is that all about.' He'll have to get used to that."