The Importance of Mentors: Chris Richardson

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Chris Richardson | Tattersalls

Who has been the biggest inspiration in your career and why?

CR: I find it hard to select just one person as my career has been shaped and influenced by a number of people however, the first person would be my brother, Tim, (along with his wife, Mimi), who encouraged me the most when he suggested I join him in France during my school holidays in the early 1970s.  At the time, Tim was managing the Haras de la Verrerie for Monsieur Elie de Brignac in Normandy. Tim later offered me a summer job working at Alan Clore’s Haras de St Maclou, helping to build the stud and assemble the wooden prefabricated stables which were imported from the USA and put up the fencing etc.  Eventually I moved on to work with the horses and looked after the stallions, including Sword Dancer and Wittgenstein.

In 1980, I went to work for Seth Hancock at Claiborne Farm in Kentucky for a season, where I was fortunate that the then assistant manager, Gus Koch, and the resident stud veterinarian, the late Dr. Walter Kauffman, took me under their wings. Plans to head to Australia with my great friend, Chris Budgett, who was also working in Kentucky were interrupted, as Tim called (by then the manager for the Niarchos family) and asked if I would come back to look after Nureyev (Pivotal {GB}’s grandfather), who was to stand one season in France at the Haras de Fresnay le Buffard, before being moved to stand at Walmac Farm in Kentucky.

Having met Annie at Deauville Racecourse, who was working for the Niarchos family, plans to move on to Australia at the end of that season were interrupted again! Annie and I were married in 1981 and settled in France. However, at that time the second person to most influence my career was Sir Philip Payne-Gallwey, racing manager to Stavros Niarchos. Sir Philip was widely regarded as one of the best judges of a yearling and he certainly taught me the importance of conformation and athleticism. Sir Philip, at the time, was interviewing, with my brother Tim, for someone to oversee the building of Spring Oak Farm in Kentucky, now renamed Oak Tree Farm.  Married for only six months, Sir Philip called me and asked if Annie and I might like to go to Kentucky to supervise this for a period of six months, which we agreed to do. Six months turned into six very happy years for our family, all thanks to Sir Philip and of course Mr. Niarchos, who placed such confidence in both Annie and I at the time. I never did make it to Australia to work.

I consider myself very fortunate to have been lucky enough to progress through the Thoroughbred business meeting so many fascinating, interesting and knowledgeable people and in December 1986 I was introduced to Patricia Thompson and her son, Richard, by David Minton and Harry Herbert. This introduction gave Annie and I the opportunity to play a part in the expansion and development of Cheveley Park Stud by the stud owners David and Patricia Thompson. Quite an amazing opportunity for us and, as a family, we are eternally grateful.

What’s the best advice you’ve been given and why did it stick with you?

CR: Probably the best advice I was given came from Tex Cauthen–father of champion jockey Steve–who, when I told him we were leaving Kentucky to move back to England to join Cheveley Park Stud, said “Chris, we will miss you here in Kentucky, however, I know you will do well back home. Remember, whatever happens, just take time to smell the flowers.” I have never forgotten his advice.

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