Horse & Hound
All in a day’s work Jockey agent Chris Broad
Chris Broad on managing 28 jump jockeys, 100 missed calls and jocking up the wrong man
‘It’s difficult when I have the choice of two horses for one jockey and the other one wins’
I am a farmer’s son and, when I left school, I wanted to work in racing,
so I started out as a stable lad before a stint as a jockey. Then I started an equine transport company, had a livery yard with my wife, Jane, and trained racehorses. However, training is a tough game and you need serious backing, so people suggested I went down the jockey agent route.
I started out with five jockeys on my books, including Carl Llewellyn, Warren Marston, Timmy Murphy when he was a conditional, and Jim Culloty when he was an amateur. Twenty-three years ago when I started, a jockey agent was a new “thing”; jockeys had always previously managed their rides by themselves.
A typical day for me involves being in the office by 5.15am,
where I’ll have a read through the day’s Racing Post. At about 6.15am, I will usually get calls from my jockeys, who will be on their way to ride out for trainers. Then from about 7am until 11am, I will have various trainers on the phone, who are looking to book jockeys for their horses.
Declarations for the next day’s racing take place at 10am, so that is always a busy time. After 11am, things slow down a little bit and, between Jane and me, we’ll text my jockeys to let them know where they’re riding the next day. We’ll also alert them if they are doing a bottom weight, so they have time to prepare for that. By 1pm, the entries come out for the next five days, so I’ll start working my way through them.
Jane is a huge part of the business — in the afternoon she’ll man the phone in the office, while I take the dogs for a walk to clear my head a bit. I try to make sure I am finished in the office at 6pm each day and the answerphone will go on.
It is a full-on job and I work seven days a week.
Most of the time I am waiting for trainers to decide which horses they are running. Sometimes they will decide suddenly not to run a horse that day, and I have to tell the jockey they won’t have that ride, which I never like doing. During the week, I will be focusing on the feature Saturday racedays, too, because that is where the big prize money is and you want your jockeys to be riding on these days.
When the National Hunt season peaks it is manic,
and Christmas Day will be my only day off. These days, the jumps calendar has a few breaks in it over the summer, so it allows me to have a few days away from it all. I only have jump jockeys on my books, so I am less busy over the summer months.
I don’t tend to go racing any more — apart from the Cheltenham Festival. I am more use in the office, otherwise I come home to about 100 missed calls and I just think, “Was that worth it?” On a rare day off, Jane and I will go for a nice walk somewhere like Exmoor and we don’t talk racing at all. I also try not to watch racing on my days off — well, unless my jockeys are riding.
I have worked with some great jockeys over the years.
I’m proud to have played a big part in Timmy Murphy’s successful career; I saw him go through many highs and lows. I always get such a buzz from seeing my jockeys winning and doing well. I hate seeing them get injured, it is the worst part of the job. You build up close relationships with them and you feel for them when they are sidelined through injury.
I currently have 28 jump jockeys on my books,
including Noel Fehily, Sam Twiston-Davies, Wayne Hutchinson, Gavin Sheehan and Adrian Heskin. I always say that is my maximum number; however, I wouldn’t often turn down a new young jockey, because I could be looking at a future champion.
It is a stressful job and I’m fortunate to have my wife to bounce ideas and problems off.
I would advise anyone considering going down this route to start small, with just a handful of jockeys on your books. Then, if it is successful, it will naturally snowball. It is vital to have a love of racing and also a good phone manner. You have to be prepared to work long hours — it is not just a job, it is a lifestyle. However, I am fortunate to be able to say my passion is also my job.
Mistakes will happen.
I remember one time very clearly when I was starting out, I managed to jock up the wrong jockey on a horse for renowned trainer Martin Pipe, and it was for a big owner too, the late David Johnson. It is also difficult when I have the choice of two horses for one jockey and I choose the wrong horse, while the other goes on and wins the race.