An exceptional guest on Les Courses RMC this Saturday, Tony Parker reviewed his launch into the equestrian world and the creation of his Infinity Nine Horses team, as well as his ambitions for the future.
Tony Parker, when did you start creating this Infinity Nine Horses team?
I always knew I was going to do this, I just wanted to wait until the end of my career because the day I wanted to start, I wanted to do it right. Since I was little, I have always loved horses. I grew up in Texas, I spent 20 years in San Antonio, there are ranches everywhere so I have always been in that environment. I know that compared to the team, it’s something I wanted to do at the end of my career because I know it takes time. And to integrate a world like that, where the human adventure is incredible, I wanted to come to the bottom, because everything that I undertake, every time I am at the bottom. I like to do things well, to know the whole environment a little bit, and it takes time to know a world like that. I really took the time, I went to different stud farms, I met a lot of people. I felt good to start our adventure. For now, I have met incredible people who are accompanying me on this adventure and that is exactly what I was looking for, a human adventure with passionate people. I can’t wait to tell this story, humbly bring my little stone to the building to build a coherent project that can help the equestrian world.
How did you establish contact with those around you, especially Ludovic Gadbin?
In fact, it is the coach of the female ASVEL, Valéry Demory, who has been in horses for 30 years. He knew I wanted to get into horses after my career. I was on vacation, he had an opportunity with Ludovic Gadbin and he started talking to me about it. He said to me: “Tony, I don’t know your timing as to when you want to start but now I have a great opportunity with a filly, I think you should do it”. So I called Ludovic, the feeling went really well and so we ended up with this first filly.
Why did you turn to the gallop?
Galloping is because I love speed. It’s my identity, compared to how I was as a basketball player. I’ve always liked speed so that’s why I started with canter.
You have three horses, all with the name of Best. Do you want to keep this name?
No, I’m not going to keep it. I already have other fillies that do not have the same name. You will hear about Mangoustine which will make its debut this summer. We kept Best Win and Best Sixteen because Charles Leclerc chose the name. I asked my community on Instagram to choose by giving me horse name suggestions and Best Sixteen won on my social networks. That’s why we stayed with this name. But we will have two horses which will not have this name with best, Mangoustine this summer and Crazy B which will start next year.
How many horses would you like to have?
At the moment, I have no figures. I go with the feeling, according to the opportunities. As I said, it’s a human adventure, I had the chance to meet coaches with whom the feeling went very well. I’m looking to make a difference in the horse racing world, because I think it should be more popular and there are some amazing stories to tell. So I would like to make races known more so that people get to know this world.
Tony Parker: “Even if it takes 15 years, 20 years, 30 years, you have to dream”
What is your take on jockeys and horses as an athlete?
I’m learning, I’m very lucky to be well surrounded. I am fortunate to have the advice of Pierre-Charles Boudot who is for me one of the best jockeys in the world. When you have the chance to have dinner with someone like that, it speeds up your learning. The same when you talk to Henri Bozo who is perhaps one of the best breeders in the world with the Monceaux stable. I slept there for two days and you are learning a lot, so I feel like my learning is accelerating. It’s like I’m talking to Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson for hours, it obviously speeds up your learning.
What does the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe represent in your eyes?
I love history, whether in sports or in basketball. I am someone who knows history very well, who respects history, who learns. Everyone knows that the race to be won in the world is the Arc. Even if it takes 15 years, 20 years, 30 years, you have to dream. I know very well that it will take a long time, that the competition is tough. I have always dreamed big in basketball. When I was little I always said I wanted to play in the NBA and people thought I was crazy. It’s the same, people may think I’m crazy but in any case I will do everything to have the opportunity to be competitive. We will go there little by little, we will build. I want to help in training, in the life of jockeys, there are many things in which I want to bring my stone to the building to make the equestrian world grow.
If you win the Arc, what do you do?
It would be amazing. I think since I came to the other side of the barrier, whether as club president who wins a title with his team by choosing the entire squad. It’s an amazing feeling to start from the very bottom and see the title. The feeling you get when you win is hard to describe. And when you tell me about a victory in the Arc, it will surely go through years of work, finding the right filly, the right crosses, the right opportunities… The whole ecosystem of the horse world. It would be incredible to even have the opportunity to be in a race like that of the Arc. It’s something I dream of, of course. But for now, I am aware that it will be difficult. But the important thing is to be able to dream.