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The Racing Life of George Kimberley

Despite having many roles within the racing industry, George Kimberley always been mindful of a career in bloodstock. He’s now living his dream, having, this summer, signed for the first horse in his own name, John W Creasy who's now in training with Chris Honour. Once a graduate with a 2:1 with honours in Equine Science from Hartpury College, George assists in the running of the syndicate Chase The Dream Racing.

‘At Hartpury, I learnt how to use scientific research papers and researched interesting ideas such as effect on different types of surface, injury risk and pedigree related tendencies,’ explains George. ‘Every time there was an assignment where I could apply it to racing, I did. Even my dissertation was racing related’.

Presently, many opportunities are open to George: ‘I've bought a couple of horses now and assisted in the purchase of a few others. Hopefully, these first few go well on the track and I can build it up from there. I'd also like to be involved in managing more syndicates, it's especially satisfying to help people get involved for the first time. Race planning, entries and declarations are also of interest to me but syndicates and buying horses is my focus.’

George, 41, was born in Cornwall, growing up in Gorran near the picturesque Mevagissey. He now lives in Ashburton, Devon, not far from Newton Abbot.

Did you have a horsey childhood? I first got on a horse at five-years-old when me and my two sisters had riding lessons. This continued until I was about ten when I lost interest in riding, until I got into racing.

Riding the Arab Aramits

How did you get into racing? At about twelve, I can remember one Saturday in the summer holidays watching Red Route win the Geoffrey Freer Stakes, which was a trial for the St Leger. He became the ante-post favourite for the St Leger and I just became interested in the whole racing game.

At school in Year 10, for the work experience week, I went to Kim Bailey’s in Lambourn. Then, I went back in the October and did another week on my own accord. After A-levels, I went to Henry Daly’s; after a couple of months there, during Christmastime in 2000, I attended the Northern Horseracing College at Doncaster for the ten-week course. I returned to Henry Daly’s and stayed for two years.

Where you a jockey? After my first year at university, I had a free lease on an Arab I had previously ridden out, called Aramits. I raced him four times that summer, placing three out of our five total races together. I’m not sure that means I was a jockey, but I have ridden a horse around a racetrack.

I had a spin around a racecourse for the first time since then very recently in a charity race at Wincanton, at the end of October. It was in aid of the Bob Champion Cancer Trust and the whole thing was great fun. Joe Tizzard kindly provided the horse (Vision Des Flos) and I was pleased to have reached my fundraising target for a great cause.

What roles have you had in racing? I was a lad at Henry Daly’s. After there, whilst I was at Hartpury College, I worked part time for the late Andy Hobbs.

When I was 30, I had a year at Andrew Balding's as pupil assistant. I have always been more of a jumps’ man and into National Hunt but it did me good to learn about the Flat.

What ‘good’ horses have you ridden out? My claim to fame is to have exercised four different Welsh Grand National winners – Edmond who won in 1999, Le Beau Bai won in 2011, Native River won in 2016 and Elegant Escape, the winner in 2018.

Who have been influential in your career? When I was new in racing and first went to Henry Daly’s as an eighteen-year-old, a big influence was Simon White. At the time, he was head of the top yard but is now head of travelling. I worked closely with Simon and he was very good at educating me when I was a complete beginner. There were several times when Simon had to jump off his horse and sort out my tack – he was so patient at helping me out and never lost his rag.

More recently, when I was at Andrew Balding’s, I worked closely with Nigel Walker, who was head lad then but is an assistant there now. He was an excellent person to learn from.

How did you get into bloodstock? After finishing college, I had a couple of years out of racing to decide what I wanted to do then I went to work for the Racing Post and that's where my interest in bloodstock really developed.

I originally applied for a journalist/news desk role but didn't get it because they moved someone internally into it. I took the role they vacated – on the data desk, which is a common way for people to get their foot in the door. I then got a job on the bloodstock desk, working on bloodstock news and features and did a lot of interviewing. I'd always been interested in every aspect of racing but pedigrees and genetics have always been high up on my list. This job gave me a good insight into the bloodstock industry, especially meeting with lots of characters and professionals in bloodstock.

I have also worked for a betting firm for the last ten years and have therefore watched a lot of racing so I asked Kevin Ross if I could be of any assistance with form. We met up at Doncaster sales and Belles Benefit was the first horse that I was involved in the purchase of. She went to Ben Case’s last season, winning her first start and was placed in her three other runs that year.

On the gallops on Aramits, John W Creasy and down at the start for the charity race

Who do you admire in bloodstock? Over the years, I’ve been around a few sales with bloodstock agents having worked on the Racing Post’s bloodstock desk, and Kevin and Anna Ross were particularly good and knowledgeable people. Ross Doyle is also an impressive individual and extremely thorough.

Racehorse you wish bought: Native River. I've always been drawn to a horse with an impeccable attitude as opposed to the flashier types and the fact he wasn't by one of the most obvious stallions (Indian River) would make it all the more satisfying.

What are your plans for the future? To build my network of trainers to source horses for, flat and jumps, particularly horses in training. I'd especially love to find a good three-year-old off the flat to go hurdling and I’m hoping Kentucky Bluegrass will go well in that sphere. Hopefully we can give our syndicate members plenty of and get into the winners' enclosure again this season too.

What do you love about racing? I think what makes racing so special is the relationship between horse and rider. When you watch football or rugby or athletics, it’s the hard work, skill and endeavour of the individual or the team of individuals but with racing, it's horse and rider together. Racehorses are such athletic and impressive animals; it just makes horseracing so compelling. There’s also a lot of very good people in the sport and the goodwill shown between those competing against each other can be heart warming.

Generally, where can improvements be made to racing? Perhaps the most key aspect that we can do something about is accessibility when it comes to involvement in horses. These days there's something for every budget with the Owners Group, smaller racing clubs available at around £150 per year and shares of all sizes offered. The racehorse ownership experience is key to the health of the sport and I think efforts have increased to make racing more accessible and many trainers make every effort to make ownership as enjoyable as possible.

Bonus schemes like the Great British Bonus are very helpful in topping up the financial return for owners and National Racehorse Week is a very good incentive to show the public racing from the inside. The more studs and trainers that embrace those sorts of things, the more people will find a way to get involved.

Favourite racecourse: Cheltenham is the obvious one but Newbury is a good track to have as your local one – it is a great viewing track and holds both Flat and jumps at a high level. For a smaller track, Newton Abbot is ‘home’ and is also a very friendly independent track.

Favourite meeting: Again, the Cheltenham Festival is the obvious one but I’ve had great days out at the April meeting there, especially the mares’ day. Everything is very accessible because it's not busy: it's the time to go to Cheltenham races.

Favourite racehorse: There's so many: Moscow Flyer, Lammtarra, Native River, Cue Card… I'll say Cue Card is my favourite high-profile horse. When he won the King George, that was one of the most exciting races I've watched.

When at Henry Daly’s, a horse called Make Haste Slowly was a favourite. He was a bit of a character, and I looked after him and rode him every day for the first couple of months he was there. I fell off him twice; considering how sharp he was, I am proud that I didn’t fall off him more. I was fond of him.

Favourite sale: The Spring sale at Doncaster. My main focus at the moment is the horses in training part and it's also good to see a few stores on the first two days, especially those from the new sires.

Who is your racing hero? Richard Johnson. I'm a massive fan of AP McCoy, of course but Richard Johnson, despite him being a well-established top jockey when I was an eighteen-year-old riding out at Henry Daly's, would talk to me like he did to everyone else. You never find anyone with a bad word to say about him.

How did you name Chase The Dream Racing? The name captures the excitement of horseracing, whether it's owning the horse or having a winner, it's a dream that can become reality.

Which horses are Chase The Dream Racing involved in? We have two leased mares with Tom Symonds called Gaye Legacy and Luna Dora, a staying chaser with Joe Tizzard called Faustinovick, and an unraced Phoenix Of Spain two-year-old for the flat with Owen Burrows who is also leased.

George on Ispahan

Typical day: Entries and communications for syndicate horses are a big part of my day now; I’ll scan the day's racing, looking for meetings and races that are of relevance to me in some way. Syndicate management is about communication between you and trainer and then syndicate members, as well as spreadsheets, bank accounts and various administrative type of jobs. I ride out as often as I can at Chris Honour’s yard.

When time allows, I do like to spend a small bit of the day with a book or a guitar in hand!

Hobbies: My life is horseracing and music. I play bass guitar and guitar as much I can and also like to see plenty of live music.

Favourite book: I am non-fiction reader. My favourite is Zoological Philosophy by Jean Baptiste Lamarck – he wrote it about fifty years before Darwin and his angle was the inheritance of acquired traits. My most entertaining read is about the youngest Spitfire pilot in the Battle of Britain – Geoffrey Wellum’s First Light.

Favourite music: I started on David Bowie and he is my biggest musical influence. The most impressive thing about him is how he nailed multiple genres – a true artist who broke new ground. I'm a massive fan of Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, The Rolling Stones and a lot of ‘70s stuff. Plus, soul music like Aretha Franklin, James Brown and Sam Cooke. The more modern names I like are less well known and that's a reflection on the whole of the music industry these days: Maria McKee, Patty Griffin and Robert Randolph.

Favourite movie: As a rule, I’ve hardly watched any films as I’m just not into them but I loved watching Jaws.

George smiling post-charity race

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