Captain Chris is fondly remembered by many racing fans for his long-term racing partnership with Champion Jockey Richard Johnson. The pair memorably won the 2014 Ascot Chase where he took charge of the race three fences from home and stormed clear to win this coveted Grade 1, making amends for the blunder he made at the second last fence in the 2013 running of the race when battling it out against Cue Card.
The handsome bay gelding had spent his racing career at Sandhill, the Somerset training base of Philip Hobbs, a facility that Colour Sergeant George Beilby and his family had used on many occasions to gallop their point-to-pointers.
It was during one such visit to these gallops in 2011 that a conversation was held between George and Hobbs’ assistant trainer Johnson White regarding another of the yard stable stars, Monkerhostin. George had heard that Monkerhostin had been retired from racing and simply enquired if plans had been made for his life out of racing and within weeks the larger-than-life Monkey had joined George and his family to start his new life.
At the end of 2018, the Hobbs’ were looking for a suitable, active home for Captain Chris so they made the call to George and Chris arrived with them in January 2019 and the King’s Theatre sired gelding hasn’t looked back.
George feels there are many similarities between those who embark on a military career and racehorses. Both lead disciplined careers with an emphasis on routine and physical fitness. Similarly, there can be issues for both when faced with the need to move on and find a new career and George feels that, like soldiers, racehorses are entitled to prove that they can succeed in another role. George believes that with a capable and confident rider, along with patience, many ex-racehorses can prove their versatility and succeed in a new life.
George says “Chris, who is now 17, is a gentle giant; my daughter Kelsie was just 15 years old when she first took him hunting. He is genuine and straight forward whereas Monkey still lives everyday like it is his last, is brave and would give anything a try.”
Chris is often partnered by George’s wife Debbie who has taken part in RoR parades, acted as chaperone to the family’s racing ponies and enjoyed learning new skills like showjumping but sadly, like the rest of the nation, Chris and Monki are currently enduring an enforced Covid lockdown holiday spending time out in the field with the Beilby family’s other equine friends.