Leading Victorian trainer Robbie Griffiths has always displayed a deliberate spirit of rebellion and passion in the work he does. It’s this attraction to the atypical that saw him partner with South African trainer Matthew de Kock, the son of leading South African and UAE trainer Mike de Kock creating one of the strongest partnerships in Australia.
“Matthew and I have bought nine horses so far and we hope that we can find the right partners for each horse,” Griffiths explains from the Gold Coast, where he is currently buying yearlings at the Magic Millions’ Gold Coast Yearling Sale.
Indeed, Griffiths De Kock Racing have found incredible opportunities for their syndicate partners through their association with Mike de Kock’s stable in Dubai. Despite challenging times Griffiths’ Gr.3 winning-homebred Halvorsen is expected to travel to Dubai for the Al Quoz Sprint and then onwards to England for the Sprint Series providing the other owners with an opportunity to enjoy the experience of iconic international racing.
The Cranbourne based trainer is firmly entrenched among the top 10 trainers in Victoria. Here, Griffiths describes his purchases at the Gold Coast, plans for Halvorsen and how he plans to increase the racing-lifestyle experience for his syndicate partners at Griffiths De Kock Racing:
Q: You are currently at the Gold Coast sales, what have you purchased so far?
A: We’ve bought a couple of American Pharoah colt from Coolmore. Also, we purchased seven yearlings from a range of other leading sires - So You Think (NZ), Redoute's Choice, Zoustar (AUS), Highland Reel (IRE), Shalaa (IRE), Sebring (AUS), Exceed and Excel. We have something for everyone at different price ranges.
Q: What are your plans for the Halvorsen going forward in 2021?
A: Halvorsen is nominated for the Newmarket Handicap at Flemington in March. Depending on his in-line form and his performance at the time as well as the circumstances (referring to the COVID19 restrictions) he will travel to Dubai for the Gr.1 Al Quoz Sprint and then further onto the UK for the Sprint Series.
Q: What are your plans for increasing the racing-lifestyle experience for your owners?
A: Through our association with Mike de Kock, of course depending on the ability of the horse, we will be able to offer our owners and syndicate partners the opportunity to experience iconic international racing in Dubai and elsewhere. Racing is after all about the racing lifestyle and we would like to offer a broader and more prestigious experience for our clients.
Q: Which has been your most challenging/ memorable race to date?
A: The Quarterback winning the Gr. 1 Newmarket Handicap, it was my first Gr.1 and to win it in such a time-honoured event was a dream come true. Another close favourite is our Gr.2 Saab Quality win on Derby Day which then secured our berth in that year’s Melbourne Cup. It was a really big win for me.
Q: What attracted you to horses and a career in training racehorses?
A: My family was in racehorses and I have an elder brother who was a successful jockey. So I have always wanted to get involved with horses. As a kid, I wanted to be a vet. Those dreams went out the window and I became a jockey, following in my brother’s footsteps. I rode for training greats such as the late Colin Hayes, Bart Cummings, Lee Freedman and other brilliant horsemen, which stood me in good stead and helped me outride my claim within two years. Eventually, when I started having issues with my weight, I became stable foreman for Tony Vasil in 1991. Vasil did quite well in Dubai. In fact, his horse Elvstroem broke the Australian duck at the Dubai World Cup meeting in devastating style, winning the US$2 million Gr. I Dubai Duty-Free in 2005.
Q: And finally, who is your biggest inspiration?
A: For me, the great Bart Cummings was my biggest inspiration in my younger days. However, recently as I look back, I am inspired by the fact that I am able to continue training horses after my brain surgery.