Almost every racecourse, anywhere in the world, produces a race card for every meeting they stage and this has been the case for almost as long as horse racing has existed. These can range from a basic paper sheet to full colour, glossy booklets. The race card is the official program of the day’s events and makes a perfect souvenir item for the collector. The race card will usually contain details of every race staged, along with the runners and riders and often some basic form guide. Each race card is unique to the racecourse and the specific racing day which means that every race card is a piece of history.
Race cards can vary in value considerably from a few pennies to perhaps hundreds of pounds which makes collecting horse racing race cards a hobby which is suitable for and can be enjoyed by, both the beginner and the connoisseur alike.
There is always a good supply of race cards available for the collector to purchase, with new race cards being produced daily and a good variety of used and vintage items often quite readily available. It is worth giving some thought as to what particular areas might interest you most and perhaps specialise in these. Some suggestions for theming a horse racing race card collection is outlined below:
Horse racing is an international sport and takes place daily at hundreds of venues around the world. An inexpensive and fun option for the beginner might be to compile a collection of race cards from as many different racecourses and countries as possible.
Many events and races in horse racing take place annually and in some cases have taken place for decades or even hundreds of years. You might consider collecting race cards from any one or several of these events, such as the Aintree Grand National, Epsom Derby or Breeders’ Cup. Recent cards are likely to be easy to find and relatively inexpensive while older editions will be rarer, more sought after and probably more expensive.
Many horse racing fans have their favourite racehorses and this can be the basis of a collection. It might be possible to track down a race card for every race your own favourite ever participated in. Universally popular horses such as Frankel, Black Caviar and Red Rum are likely to prove more expensive to collect than others. A race card signed by the jockey of the day or trainer could enhance the value of the race card.
Horse racing is one of the oldest sports in the world and has a rich history and this can be reflected in a horse racing race card collection. Many racecourses have come and gone and you might consider seeking out vintage race cards that may have been issued by racecourses that no longer operate or even exist. You could also look for historical characters such as famous jockeys from yesteryear or champion racehorses that were the heroes of their day.
Things to consider:
The value of a race card can be affected by a number of factors. Unless you plan to visit each racecourse and collect all your race cards first-hand, you will be purchasing used or second-hand products. As with any second-hand purchase, you should always take note of and satisfy yourself as to the terms and conditions of a sale. With second-hand items, you may not always have the opportunity to return an item.
Consider what condition is acceptable to you. As a paper product, there is the potential for some tearing. Race cards may also have been written in – winners noted, non-runners ruled out etc. These could potentially enhance or (more likely) reduce the value of the race card. Age of the item should be taken into account – it might be acceptable for vintage items to show signs of a little wear and tear while newer items are expected to be in much better condition.
Race cards are the perfect item for obtaining autographs. Signed race cards can be considerably more valuable than unsigned ones, depending on the signatory and also the context. Any race card featuring the signature of Sir Gordon Richards or Lester Piggott is likely to have some value while a race card featuring Frankel could be significantly enhanced if autographed by Tom Queally.
Condition is subjective and this should always be remembered where the condition is described by the vendor. You must also always take care to satisfy yourself as to the authenticity of any signed item.