“In Chris We Trust”

I thought that it was long overdue to put “pen to paper” to write about the exploits of one of the most important members of the stable team and a major contributor to my personal success.

A racehorse training stable is no different to any other business, with success or failure determined by the people within it. We are fortunate to have a tremendous team of people working together to keep the ball rolling.

Some twenty plus years ago a fresh-faced graduate of Marcus Oldham arrived looking for a job. I couldn’t have imagined then that he would become one of my best friends, someone I rely on regularly for advice and who I couldn’t imagine making a business decision without first running it past him.

For those of you who have not guessed, the person I am referring to is none other than Chris Bock (Christo/ Bocky/ Cedric). Aside from being all of the above, Chris possesses one of the best “eyes” for a horse you’d ever encounter and, in typical Christo fashion, his skills fly under the radar of most.

For the uninitiated to horse sales, days consist of hours and hours of walking, looking at horse after horse and maintaining focus the whole time. It also involves having the retentive memory to recall a horse seen days before. Now I must confess I don’t have these qualities and after a few hours into it I’m calling for a coffee and dim-sim stop, much to Chris’s chagrin. I can’t recall the amount of times my “goldfish attention span” has given out on me and I’ve left Chris to keep going on his own and for him to come back and say “you really have to come and look at this horse” and, as is regularly the case, he is right again.

To watch him at the sales is theatre in itself, book in one hand, cigarette in the other, looking at horse after horse, he patrols the barns searching for the next winner. I often watch the staff parading the horses in front of him sometimes with a look of, “who is this person in jeans, t-shirt and runners wasting my time?” laughing to myself that little do they know that the person perusing their horse is someone who pre-determines that horse’s success better than anyone else in the business.

While most of us crave recognition for our successes due to ego and insecurities I have never witnessed this with him. You read countless stories of bloodstock agents and their ability to purchase a good horse yet no-one looks at the money they have spent to achieve this. There is a list a mile long of agents that fall into this category, the supposed good judges whose budgets could keep “job keeper” going for another 6 months. Chris has the ability to find a nice horse at any budget level which, to me, is the greatest example of ability.

Christo’s list of achievements is long and in the last few years it has snowballed further and the arrival of Inferno is testament to his brilliance. Let me explain. The majority of us in this business are followers of fashion and as such we “run with the pack” at sales time. Inferno’s father, Holy Roman Emperor, was hardly flavour of the month and his mother had not had a runner at the time of his purchase. The selection of Inferno was simply done on “type” and it is Chris’s ability to see what others couldn’t that resulted in him turning up at our stable.

Stalking the Karaka Yearling sales

In this world of Covid -19 the logistics of attending sales will be very difficult so we have to work out how we best tackle the situation and continue to buy successful horses. I believe, at this stage, it will mean Chris will spend a few months away from Singapore at sales time as quarantine restrictions will not allow an easy transit from country to country. From a selfish point of view, I will miss his guidance and “banter” while he is away but I will sleep easy knowing he is at the sales doing what he does best.

During the sales period I strongly recommend that you spend a day walking around with him as you will learn more in a day with him than a lifetime with others.

Thanks again Christo,

Cliff.