By TOM DIDATO
C-I (Camden, S.C.) sports editor
C-I (Camden, S.C.) sports editor
Their coolers have graced some of the biggest names in Thoroughbred racing as well as other equine disciplines and have been seen by millions of people worldwide. Now, Camden-based Fenwick Equestrian can add another feather to their cap.
This latest deal is the operation’s first major venture outside the United States. Earlier this spring, Fenwick Equestrian joined Team British Racing as their first official supplier and partner.
Team British Racing was recently launched by Great British Racing International (GBRI) and will see numerous top performers from Britain sporting the Team British Racing logo at some of the world’s foremost race meetings, including the Dubai World Cup, Melbourne Cup, Hong Kong International and the Breeders’ Cup.
Fenwick Equestrian, owned by sister and brother, Wilhelmina and Fred McEwan, produces coolers, lightweight blankets used to prevent hot and sweaty horses from getting chilled, for winners of --- among other entities --- the Kentucky Derby, the Kentucky Oaks, the New York Racing Association and the Belmont, the Carolina Cup and the Colonial Cup, the United States Hunter Jumper Association and is an official Breeders’ Cup partner while also providing coolers to the winning horses in all Breeders’ Cup races.
It was through their association with former Breeders’ Cup senior vice president of sales, Carter Carnegie, that Fenwick was able to provide one element of its expansive product line into the market in Great Britain. After leaving his post with the Breeders’ Cup, Carnegie was appointed as the International Executive for GBRI, which was launched in April 2013 by Racing Enterprises Ltd, The British Horseracing Authority and The Horserace Betting Levy Board.
"GBRI works to facilitate and grow international investment in the British racing and breeding industry by providing a bespoke service for those seeking to invest in the highest levels of thoroughbred racing in Britain," read a release from GBRI. "By marketing to a wide international audience, GBRI works to showcase British racing as a world leader and a centre of excellence for the sport."
Already, some of the top trainers in Great Britain including John Gosden and Sir Michael Stoute have joined forces with GBRI in promoting racing in their homeland to a worldwide audience. And now, Fenwick Equestrian will be a major part of the team.
"It’s huge, especially with England," Wilhelmina McEwan said of the cross-Atlantic partnership. "The racing history in England is incredible and the program the Team British Racing is doing. They went to Dubai for their first event and they’re going to Australia, Singapore, to France for the ‘Arc de Triomphe and then, they will be back in the United States for the (November) Breeders’ Cup. It’s getting our product around the world on championship-level horses. You couldn’t buy the type of marketing we’re going to get from this and, for a small company like us, it’s huge."
Fenwick Equestrian supplies a variety of premium equestrian brands and products and when the equine members of Team British Racing arrived in Dubai earlier this spring, they were well equipped with rugs designed to deflect the sun’s rays and maintain a cool body temperature for the horse wearing it.
The mesh rugs are made of "Spasoft," a high performance fabric which gives total sun block by deflecting away the sun’s rays, allowing the wearer to remain cool even when in direct sunlight. The fabric also has an antibacterial quality to help prevent skin disease in hot climates.
Manufactured in Spartanburg, the cooler is a product which went from inception to delivery of the product from the Palmetto State, a fact which McEwan is proud of telling her clients throughout the world.
"That blanket is our spectacular one," she said of the unique design. "It’s a new process that we’re doing with heat transfer and we’re doing it for the Kentucky Derby and the Kentucky Oaks this year. It’s going to be the blanket which we will use for really big championship-type events. The really nice thing is that it’s made in South Carolina."
As for Team British Racing, McEwan said, Fenwick designed a cooler designed specifically for it, which will be given to the top 15 (horses) as the year develops. The pattern includes the Union Jack along with Team British Racing and the horse’s name embroidered on the cooler.
"Fenwick Equestrian is proud to be to be associated with Team British Racing," McEwan said. "And through the use of our high performance rugs, Fenwick will help maintain the well-being of its competitors around the world in all climates.
"Our ethos is a ‘a cooler horse is a happier horse’ and I look forward to seeing our cutting-edge product being worn under the Team British Racing banner at all top-class race meetings."
GBRI is a unique venture which is designed to promote British racing and its longstanding tradition of Thoroughbred Racing to race fans worldwide. Keeping race-followers involved for the long run, McEwan said, is one of the goals of the organization.
McEwan explained that GBRI and Team British Racing can best be compared to a college football program and its loyal fan base.
"What’s happening in racing today is that horses don’t have a long career," she said, "so they are trying to get people familiar with the trainers and the owners because the trainers and the owners continue to have horses from year to year. An average flat horse is going to run two to three years, at the most. It takes about that long to get the public interested.
"It’s like a football team, especially with college programs; the players change all the time, but everybody follows University of South Carolina football, regardless. They follow the coach who would be the trainer in flat racing, and the owners would be the team. Even though the players continue to change (fans) continue to focus on this group.
"I think it says to people, ‘We have to do something for racing to get the public to continue to follow it.’ The Breeders’ Cup is doing that with their ‘Win and you’re in’ and some of the other organizations are doing similar things. Team British Racing is going all over the world with it."
And by racing in locales around the globe, GBRI and Team British Racing are taking Fenwick Equestrian along for the ride.
"We are delighted to be working with Fenwick Equestrian and thank Fenwick for partnering with Team British Racing," Carnegie said. "We look forward to seeing our British racing’s stars wearing the rugs all over the world on their international campaigns."
With a list of clients in North America such as Churchill Downs, NYRA, Woodbine and Golden Gate Fields, Fenwick Equestrian coolers are not just for show in the winners’ circle, but are used long after a horse crosses the finish line.
"All the race tracks are starting to get on board because the trainers like the product and it’s not just an award blanket that’s presented and then, gets thrown in a trunk," McEwan said. "The trainers like them and put them on the horses afterwards. It’s good publicity for the race track."
More and more tracks and Thoroughbred racing operations are coming on board with Fenwick Equestrian, whose product line is available in tack rooms as well as through the company’s Website, www.fenwickfarm.com. In fact, while she was in Kentucky on business this week, McEwan aligned her family’s business operation with another foreign investor as the Fenwick brand continues to develop wherever horses compete.
"At some point," she said, "we’re going to be looking at the Hong Kong Jockey Club. We have a presence in Australia and New Zealand, which just came up in the last couple months. They’ve very happy with our liquid titanium products.
"We do a lot of business in Scotland and we just started doing business in South Africa over the last couple months. I just had a request to do some blankets for a racing organization in Qatar … that puts us in the Middle East. We are really spreading out."