Well-known Australian and international thoroughbred industry participant Nick Columb, 73, has passed away in Spain. Columb had a stroke ten days ago while on holiday from his role with the Hong Kong Jockey Club as the Club's Senior International Racing Consultant.
Columb had many roles within both his own commercial career and the thoroughbred business. He made and lost significant commercial enterprises based in Melbourne. In the early 1990's Columb owned a pub and private hospitals, however after the economy took a downturn and banks called in their loans. Columb's famously said; "I went to bed a rich man and woke up a poor man." He later recovered his private commercial interests through property development.
Columb's great passon was the thoroughbred industry and he won many Group 1 races including the Caulfield Cup with Imposera in 1988 and the two-year-old holy grail of the Golden Slipper with Courtza in 1989. He was outspoken and larger than life, but thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of his involvement from owning racehorses, breeding them and buying them at auction.
He contributed back to the industry as a long-time chairman of the Thoroughbred Racehorse Owners' Association.
Columb placed the same enthusiasm into his last role with the Hong Kong Jockey Club including where he joined with Mark Richards to traverse the thoroughbred globe buying yearlings for the Jockey Club's system and Hong Kong International Sales for the Club's members to buy developed horses.
Last season's Hong Kong success story, finally, Pakistan Star, was a purchase by Columb and Richards as a yearling with the final elevation to international Group 1 success a source of much satisfaction for both.
Nick Columb, left with colleague Mark Richards at the 2018 Cape Yearling Sale, picture Liesl King
"Nick Columb was the staunchest friend, always fearless, constantly innovative & deeply passionate about horse racing and so much else. He leaves an unfillable gap in Arrowfield’s world, and so many good memories & reasons to be grateful for his incomparable life," said Arrowfield Stud's John Messara.
The Australian Trainers' Association also issued a statement, reflecting on the legacy Columb leaves behind.
"Vale Nick Columb, a passionate industry participant, owner and a driving force behind TROA for many years.
"Racing is in a better place as a result of Nick's contribution and poorer for his passing."
John Alducci worked closely with Columb during his tenure with TROA and said he was the instigator of positive change in the racing industry.
"With Nick at the helm, he took TROA to another level," Alducci said.
"Anything he did, he threw everything into it and he was probably the most passionate person I've ever come across in racing. It's a sad day for racing."
Peter Jurkovsky, TROA Vice Chairman, praised Columb for giving owners a voice at such a crucial stage.
"Nick was Chairman of TROA from 1987 to 2001, a 15-year period that is unrivalled," Jurkovsky said.
"He invited me to the board in 1997 which I have maintained since. Nick gave owners a powerful voice and legislative status in the time when people had to pay for membership of TROA.
"In many ways, they were the halcyon days, and Nick used his strong relationships in many quarters to advance the interests of owners with a powerful voice. His passion and drive was extraordinary, he also led the National Racehorse Owners Association as well as the Asia Pacific Racehorse Owners' Association."
There’s now a big, empty, silent space in the world where Nick Columb used to be – I loved his true passion for racing, ferocious loyalty to friends, advocacy of owners, fearless fronting of the powerful & his brilliant stories. Always proud to be his DS (=Designated Sheila)! pic.twitter.com/ehMdblK2Aj
— Susan Archer (@Sunline129) August 11, 2018
So sad at hearing this morning, my close mate and colleague Nick Columb had passed on during the night. Taught me a great deal in the last couple of years. I’m a better person for knowing him. Condolences to all his family. RIP Nico!!— Mark Richards (@paddocktopost) August 11, 2018