Visiting John Bootsman at BOKO STABLES

A man of vision

Entrance to BOKO Stables in the Netherlands. It is an exceptional breeding location.
All Photos: Nikolaus Matzka

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John Bootsman at his office

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A portrait of Kelsea Boko, one of the most important horses in the stable´s history

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Some cups ...

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The list of yearlings
for the Swedish market

From August 13th to 14th, 2020 we visited John Bootsman at his stud in Starnmeer, the Netherlands, near Alkmaar. BOKO Stables is a world-famous international player in harness racing. We want to give a brief overview of a relatively young, but all the more successful history of the stable.

The breeding farm goes back to John Boootsman's father Klaas (1939 to 2019).

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A memory of Frances Jet Boko with a young John Bootsman
on the left

Klaas Bootsman lived a childhood in utter poverty. This changed when he worked with his colleague Freek Koster in a company as a seasonal worker and the opportunity arose to start his own roofing company. The first letters of the surnames resulted in the name BOKO. The collaboration did not last long, Klaas Bootsman had great ambitions and visions and wanted to grow fast. He became very successful with his own roofing company.

Rather by chance, he bought his first trotter in 1971, the filly Mama Alkestis. She was unsuccessful, so Bootsman started to breed with her. In 1974 the first foal with the „ kannel name" BOKO, Prima van Boko, was born. (It should be mentioned that this line continues to this day in the Netherlands, culminating in the gelding Gustafson with a record of 1:10,8 / 1:54.)

One can say that after the death of Klaas Bootsman's wife in 1987 he was completely attacked by the "Trotting Virus" and BOKO Stables was finally established as a breeding farm. He sent his son John, born in 1964, to Lexington with a budget, who bought the two-year-old filly Chickadee Hanover, in foal to Speedy Somolli.

This purchase turned out to be a real stroke of luck. Chickadee Hanover's first foal was Elisabeth Boko, later the hugely successful Kelsea Boko (by Joie de Vie), who won all the classic races in the Netherlands as a 2-, 3- and 4-year-old! Both mares – and many more from this line – are still sustainably involved in breeding to this day.

Klaas Bootsman was a contentious person whose paths also differed from his successful trainer/driver and big friend Hugo Langeweg, who won the Dutch derby for him with John F. Boko, Kelsea Boko, Virgill Boko, Willem W. Boko and Yucca Boko and had also huge success even in the USA with Frances Jet Boko (best two-year-old of 1990).

By the way: BOKO Stables have often won all the classic races in the Netherlands (and have been breeding champions in Holland for many years):

Derby: 10 times
Sweepstakes: stallions/geldings 
11 times, fillies 8 times
Fokkers Trofee: 9 times
Sprint kampioenschap: 4 times
4 year old Derby: 5 times

Klaas Bootsman was not happy to see his son John leave for Sweden. But John pulled through, started his own path and married the daughter of Menhammar Stuteri owner Margareta Wallenius-Kleberg, Annika.

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Chelsea Boko with groom
Carla von Wijngaarden
and Stud Manager Elbert v.d. Pol

As a result, of course, John and Annika expanded with BOKO Stables in Sweden and has been an indispensable part of breeding there for many years. After their devorce in 2013 Annika started her "Annemanna" and John continued with his Kennel name BOKO.

John Bootsman has bred no fewer than 71 SEK millionaires in Sweden, and the number is growing all the time. At the top is the gelding Arazi Boko (Varenne – Laura Kemp – Express Ride) with winnings of almost 13 million SEK (approximately 1.5 million US dollars), followed by Yarrah Boko (Coktail Jet – Big Blue Kitten – Pine Chip) with around 1.3 million Dollars in winnings, who is a stallion in Sweden like Djali Boko (Ready Cash – Lucky Lavec – Pine Chip) and the successful Zola Boko (Goetmals Wood – Big Blue Kitten – Pine Chip). In addition, John Bootsman has secured shares in the Swedish exceptional trotter Campo Bahia (Muscle Hill – Americandream A.T. – Extreme Dream), which this year was offered as a Stallion for the first time in Sweden.

Speaking of shares: Bootsman is a self-made man (“I do a lot by myself”) with visions, who is constantly participating in illustrious and promising stallions, such as the French Face Time Bourbon (Ready Cash – Vita Bourbon – Love You ) and Brillantissime (Ready Cash – Ivre de Victoire – Buvetier d'Aunou), as well as at Campo Bahia and also breedings by Helgafell (Charly du Noyer – Baaria – Quaker Jet), of which he has a very high opinion.

John Bootsman, who is an extremely sporty guy (cycling!) and a walking football lexicon (in his youth he played with a certain Marco van Basten …), currently owns around 360 horses, most of which are of course for sale, whether privately or at auctions. Here are the dates of the next auctions with "BOKO" horses:


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Dutch people are inventive when it comes to watering dry land ...

Wolvega International Yearling Sale (The Netherlands), 2020-09-11

Melody Boko, filly, Yarrah Boko – Vonda Boko – Self Possessed
Montjuic Boko, colt, Broadway Hall – Nicole – Blue Eyes America
Madagascar Boko, filly, Chelsea Boko – National Lindy – Cantab Hall
Marla Boko, filly, Chelsea Boko – Edna Boko – Virgill Boko
Magdalena Boko, filly, Wellino Boko – Inez – Chocolatier 
Merrill Boko, filly, Chelsea Boko – Elsa Boko – Muscles Yankee 
Messiah Boko, colt, Virgill Boko – Kathy Silvio – Spotlite Lobell
Macarius Boko, colt, Amaru Boko – Vanessa Boko – Defi d’Aunou
Moriah Boko, filly, Make It Happen – Think Twice – Viking Kronos 
Marian Boko, filly, Chelsea Boko – Engla Haleryd – Goetmals Wood 
Magic My Boko, filly, Raja Mirchi – Mystic Illusion – Muscles Yankke 
Montserrat Boko, filly, Yarrah Boko – Holly Boko – Cantab Hall 
Maven Boko, filly, SJ’s Caviar – Felicia Boko – Virgill Boko 
Manon F Boko, filly, Quick Wood – Bahama Boko – Daguet Rapide
Melissa Boko, filly, Yarrah Boko – Venus Boko – Donerail

Kriterium Auktion (Sweden), 2020-09-24/25

Merano Boko, filly, Chelsea Boko – Miss Beniss – Angus Hall 
Madison Boko, filly, Yarrah Boko – Polly Frontline – Goetmals Wood 
Mihriban Boko, filly, Southwind Frank – Sammath Naur Baba – Love You 
Moira Boko, filly, Explosive Matter – Diva Boko – Viking Kronos 
Mazuocco Boko, filly, Chelsea Boko – Giudy Stra – Park Avenue Joe 
Missouri Boko, filly, Trixton – Iowa Boko – Yield Boko 


Green pastures as far
the eye can see ...

There is only stallion on the farm, the now eleven year old Chelsea Boko (Chocolatier – Kelsea Boko – Joie de Vie), winner of the Svenskt Trav-Kriterium, the biggest race for three-year-olds in Sweden, with a record of 1:10,2 / 1:53 and earnings of nearly $ 700,000. John plans to send his recent purchase, Yarrah Boko, for a reasonable fee to Hungary for the next breeding season in order to support the trotting sport there (and probably also those of neighboring countries such as Austria) in terms of bloodlines.

In the local stud in Starnmeer, the young horses have the best breeding opportunities on the huge paddocks. It was wonderful to wander over these with John and his Website Administrator Albert Dilling watching the fantastic looking yearlings.

Finally, you can quote a slogan from the BOKO website:

"Be the best, buy a BOKO!“

Boko Logo


© Nikolaus Matzka 2014–2022