IRC Q&A: Brian Finch, new chair at Epsom
Zimbabwean born Brian Finch has been a lifelong racing fan having cut his teeth at Borrowdale Park when accompanying his dad and younger brother to the races. As a young working adult, Brian’s first ownership involvement came about with a filly called Debutante Dancer, still fondly remembered as Brian’s Twitter handle.
Outside of Brian’s professional career with British American Tobacco, he has been involved in ownership and breeding as well as racing administration in South Africa. Since relocating to the U.K., Brian has maintained his longstanding interest in racing and was recently appointed as the new Chair of the world renowned Epsom Downs racecourse, host of two of the five British classics, the Oaks and the Derby, the latter of which will celebrate it’s 234th running this year.
Here is our Q & A with Brian Finch:
1. Full name? Brian Peter Finch
2. Date of Birth? 18th October 1962
3. Steak or sushi? Steak with a glass of red
4. Single malt or blended? Single malt
5. Fav Holiday Destination – the USA. So many varied places to go to.
6. Which: BMW or Merc – driven both, not fussed with either.
7. Biggest influence on your career? I have luckily had a few great mentors and role models but I would single out my grandfather, a quiet, unassuming man who lived the motto that if a job is worth doing, then do it well. There were no short cuts as far as he was concerned.
8. Big night out or quiet night in? A quiet night in but I’m not averse to having a ‘blow out’ when a celebratory occasion like having a Gr1 winner, demands as such.
9. Left-handed or right-handed? Right handed.
10. Most memorable day in your racing career so far? our first Gr1 win with the galloping grey King Of Pain. Kathy and I were guests of Investec at the Derby that day along with trainer Joey Ramsden. We watched the race on screen and screamed the house down as Bernard Fayd’Herbe and King Of Pain held off Beach Beauty and Yorker. It is a memory that will stay with me forever.
11. If you could choose. Owning, breeding, racing administrator or corporate involvement? Breeding. I am intrigued by pedigrees and how the great stud farms of the world put together matings and develop families over generations, it is art and science all in one. And having dabbled a little as a hobby breeder, I’ve learned just how difficult it is to try to breed a horse who could just become the next champion. I failed. I admire those that do.
12. What annoys you most? Disrespect.
13. Funniest person you have ever met? Andrew Fortune. I never fail to laugh at the vagaries of life when in his company, a truly extraordinary man.
14. What is your biggest phobia? Claustrophobia. I have this terrible fear of being stuck in a tunnel and not being able to turn around to get out.
15. Superstitions? None really.
16. Most embarrassing moment? Too many to mention. I’ve learned to accept my faux pas’ and to deal with the consequences which usually starts with a very sincere apology.
17. Best racecourse raced at? Been lucky to go to few but I am going to say Epsom Downs….because it’s Epsom Downs, home of the Derby!
18. Best horse seen in action? I watched most of Frankel’s wins on TV and the same with Sea The Stars who were both sensational racehorses proving themselves as world class stallions. The best I have seen in recent times have been Enable, St Mark’s Basilica and the new sensation Baeed who is so, so very exciting.
19. Best horse owned? Triple dead heat, King Of Pain, Russet Air and Cold As Ice. Wonderful experiences and memories created with all three horses for us and our partners.
20. Most important person in UK racing? The Queen. Her passion and support for the sport is incredible. To think that the Queen first attended the Derby in 1946 as Princess Elizabeth and has been a regular visitor to Epsom Downs in the many years that have passed since (excluding the 2 years of the Covid pandemic when crowds were not allowed/limited). It would be absolutely fantastic if Her Majesty is once again present at Epsom Downs for its 243rd running on June 4th, 2022 in this, her Platinum Jubilee year.
21. Proudest Achievement(s)? Our 4 children, watching them chart their individual paths in life.
22. Proposed UK gambling laws: Your brief view? Not a subject that I have intimate knowledge of so I’ll leave that question to wiser heads than mine. Alexander Pope reminds us that a little knowledge can often be a dangerous thing.
23. Ordinary folk or high-brow racing people? Genuine people.
24. Have we fully tapped the potential of racing syndicates or fractional ownership? Racing syndicates and fractional ownership are growing at different rates in most racing jurisdictions. I think they will continue to grow and will provide an entree to ownership for many racegoers.
25. Your star sign? Libra.
26. Your first task at Epsom? Listen and learn.
27. Read or Netflix? Read.
29. Would you rather ask for permission or ask for forgiveness? Forgiveness.
30. Nominate someone for our Q&A next? Rishi Persad, Clare Balding.
Chosen charity for readers to donate to? Epsom RDA