A Midas Games product from 2001, Stable Masters is an attempt to simulate the experience of race horse training, in game form. This basically entails huge databases of horse form, gambling and large sums of money changing hands. Championship Manager is an obvious soccer analogy.

Considering I've never heard of Midas Games before or since, I was quite surprised at how professional this game is. It's very stable and the races themselves are amazingly similar to real races. Anyone who's ever watched racing for any length of time will recognise the way the race splits into "ranks", and Stable Masters seems to recreate such phenomenon very faithfully.

On the other hand, there are some rather strange features; the actual contribution a trainer can make to a horses form is minimal, since training regimes seem utterly ineffectual. Therefore the game quickly disintegrates into "buy the most expensive horses", a habit funded by betting on the various race meetings. The tipsters in this game are quite unnaturally good, and you can make a fair buck just by following their every suggestion.

The real excitement kicks off in watching the races themselves. You can watch any race from any meeting, even those that you don't make an entry for. The actual race is shown side on and more-or-less real time, although it's sometimes hard to work out which horses you should be following since there's only three models. There are some neat features, like the variable crowd noises and photo finishes, and there's an irrestible excitement in watching your own horses race.

Despite its flaws, the game is quite fun and strangely compelling. If you've ever taken horse racing seriously then you'll most likely enjoy this game as much as I do, since it puts you in a position most racing fans dream of. The attention to detail in the vast register of horses, jockeys and race courses is impressive and based on real season data from 2001. I don't think this game got a wide distribution but it's pretty fun and you should check it out if you like management games and/or horse racing.

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