The de Boinville Connection

There are probably few people in the West of Scotland, or even the UK, other than family, who can relate C.A.C. de Boinville (Charles) to Nico de Boinville, the conditional National Hunt jockey, attached to Nicky Henderson's Seven Barrows Yard. I can!

Charles de Boinville was wicket-keeper for Greenock when I made my debut for Greenock against Ferguslie at Meikleriggs on 30 April 1955, having played for Greenock Academy in the morning. I had been called in on the Friday evening because the regular opening bowler had broken his arm and I opened the bowling to Charles as wicket-keeper.

Charles had been a member of Greenock and wicket-keeper since 1949. He had been at Wadham College, Oxford reading PPE in the mid-30s and then joined Unilever, who sent him to Harvard after the war, in which he had served in the Seaforth Highlanders.

Around 1949 Unilever sent him to Scotland as Regional Director (Scotland) for the animal feeds company BOCM who had two divisions in Greenock, where Charles was based. He lived in Kilmacolm. Charles was half-Scottish by blood and his wife was Highland. They had 3 children, Nigel (dec'd 2009), Claire and Simon. The children started their education in Kilmacolm, Nigel and Simon at Dardenne School and Claire at St. Columba's.

In 1960 Unilever moved Charles south to be vice-Chairman of the Animal Feeds Group in London and he left the area. Soon after he became Chairman. He also became a member of MCC.

From 1960 the name de Boinville disappeared from my mind and never seen


that is until 2013 (53 years later).

I have a passing interest in horse racing, often watching it on TV because of the weather outside. Additionally I read the returns to keep up with the names of jockeys and trainers. Nothing more, just a wee hobby.

Then out of the blue I see a winning jockey named "de Boinville". Initially I did not pay much attention then, or in the next two weeks, but after another week when "that" name appeared as a winning jockey again, I became more interested and reckoned there must be a connection to Charles.

So I browsed and discovered the said Nico and some interesting facts. The web site had a simple contact facility. These are the kind of sites I like as they will probably reply. I sent a short introductory email explaining my reason for contacting the site. I got a speedy reply from Brough Scott who thought that I had hit the nail on the head and said that he would pass my note to Nico's father, Simon, who contacted me equally quickly.

He confirmed all my facts and that they did leave Kilmacolm in 1960. I can only trace Charles playing for Greenock up to 1957, possibly pressure of business preventing further participation.

Evidently Simon's sleeve was attached to his father's as he was dragged to rugby, horse racing and cricket, which he particularly hated. I suspect he sees horse racing, especially National Hunt, in a different light now.

Briefly, Nico's career has gone from strength to strength since I decided to explore the surname. He had a winner at the Cheltenham Festival in 2014 and won the Gold Cup on Coneygree in 2015. He was runner up in the Conditional Jockeys Championship in 2015 but he had less rides than the winner.

There is no merit in repeating what is copiously and better written than my prose. Put "Nico de Boinville" in your browser and get his full history especially his shot at getting further educated!

Ron Irvine
June 2015