Who has been the biggest inspiration in your career?
JD: As a child growing up, I never had any interest in running a stud farm, but I’ve always loved riding horses, especially hunting and cross country. My first inspiration was my Grandfather, Gar Barker. He was a legendary figure on the hunting field and a wonderful horseman. He only rode Thoroughbreds and they’d all be beautifully behaved. He’d ride them on the end of the buckle and with the lightest of touches. I always wanted to ride like that. Later on as I started a pretty disappointing career in eventing, people like Mark Todd were my inspiration. He is unique.
Your heading is the “Importance of Mentors,” so as far as a ‘mentor’ goes, it would have to be Chris Richardson. He gave me the opportunity to be his assistant at Cheveley Park Stud, when frankly no one else would, (or should) have. With the backing of Mr and Mrs Thompson, Chris has done an incredible job at Cheveley Park Stud and above all, is renowned for his honesty and integrity. Loyalty, honesty and integrity are very important to me.
What’s the best advice you’ve been given?
JD: “Play the game.” I can’t remember who told me that, but it’s always stuck with me because I often feel that life is a game to be played and only the most brilliant can make up their own rules. Sadly I’m not one of them.
Another piece of advise that makes me smile every time I think of it was given to me by Dr ‘Pug’ Hart when I was managing Castleton Lyons Farm in Kentucky. We were discussing the merits of the different ways in which stallions were presented in Kentucky. The great traditional farms where stallions would come out of the field with a thick winter coat and a layer of mud, or the more European operations where the stallions were always shiny as a new pin. Dr Hart said to me, “Julian, never forget, people love shiny things.” He’s so right. Sadly, we are often that one-dimensional.