Gamble of his life – why Chris Anderson gave up the corporate world to train horses
Story by Brad Davidson Gold Coast Bulletin
CHRIS Anderson already had the “best job in the world”.
“I spent 15 years in the liquor industry and I was the national beer brand manager for Bulmers for three years and we also had Caffreys, Tennent’s and Bass Pale Ale,” Anderson recalls. “It was the best job in the world and we were the major beer sponsor of the British Lions when they toured here in 2001 and I was a 27-year-old bloke living in Sydney, single and travelling with the British Lions. “Then I was the state manager of Independent Distillers in Queensland and I had the chance to keep progressing to quite senior ranks.”
But despite his meteoric climb up the corporate ladder, there was something missing for Anderson.
He had always dreamt of training racehorses so he took a gamble and traded in his suit and tie to get out of bed at 3am every morning.
“I gave up everything I’ve done as far as the corporate world is concerned in the liquor industry to start from scratch and I’ve taken such a massive risk,” the 40-year-old said.
“My old career was phenomenal but I got sick of living out of a suitcase and travelling in an aeroplane all the time and I had a burning desire to train horses.
“I’ve always been someone who has backed myself and I just want to make sure I don’t have any regrets when I’m 70 or 80 years of age.
“I want to look back and say I honestly did what I wanted to do and what defines success to me is not money but living your passion and I’m a believer that if you do something you love, the money will come.
It’s been just over three years since Anderson took out a trainers’ licence in Brisbane.
At the start he had to work as a sales manager for Wimmers soft drink just to help fund his racing dream.
But Anderson is now in full swing and is on the verge of claiming his first Saturday metropolitan winner with the Nathan Tinkler-owned More Energy in the benchmark 75 handicap (2200m) at Doomben today.
“If I do train a Saturday city winner this weekend really in hindsight it’s probably something that has happened a lot sooner than I thought,” he said.
“I started with one horse and I only had a team of four to six horses in the first two years and it’s only been the last 12 to 18 months that things have started to explode.
“I’ve got close to 40 horses on my books now and I’ve got 18 boxes but I’ve asked the Brisbane Racing Club if they can increase my (stable) numbers at Eagle Farm.
But while Anderson’s training career is on the rise, his journey hasn’t come without its hiccups.
Anderson’s first good horse Prince Of Belaire had to be euthanased after he fractured a sesamoid in a race at the Gold Coast on June 22 last year.
“He would have certainly been a Saturday town horse and I remember Larry Cassidy got off him one day and said this could be a group horse,” Anderson recalled.
“I was shattered (when he fractured his sesamoid).
“I went and saw him and he was laying on the track and all the barrier boys were around me and I gave him a pat and as I walked away I just burst into tears.
“It was just horrible.”
But Anderson picked himself up and one year later he has another promising horse in More Energy, who hasn’t finished outside the top three in four starts for his new stable to date.
Anderson was given the horse to train earlier this year after he half-jokingly asked Patinack Farm staff member Ross McRobert if he could train a horse for Tinkler. “I said it half tongue in cheek but Ross spoke to Nathan and a few months later they said we have a horse for you,” Anderson recalls.
And now he hopes More Energy signals the start of a strong relationship with Tinkler.
“I actually caught up with Nathan for breakfast about six weeks ago and one thing he said to me is that ‘he would like to see a young guy like me have a lot of success’,” Anderson said.
“He said ‘there are two more unraced horses I’ve got for you and if I can help you get ahead and you help me, we will have a lot of fun together’.”
As for More Energy’s chances today, Anderson is upbeat he can get the job done after finishing a luckless third at Doomben over 1600m on June 27.
“I thought he would knock up at the 250m mark last start after being caught wide in the run but he kept coming,” Anderson said.
“We did nominate him for the mile race (today) but he would have been an emergency and I think he will run out the 2200m.”