Vin Cox

published: 09 Jun 2015 in Movers and Shakers

LIKE many people in the racing industry, the passion for this great sport began at an early age for Magic Millions managing director Vin Cox. The champions Kingston Town and Manikato were real favourites of the young Cox, who also had a soft spot for the great Marscay.
  Vin grew up in Mudgee NSW, and went off to boarding school at The Kings School in Parramatta. The very first race meeting he went to after going to Sydney was the Golden Slipper meeting in 1982 when he walked down from the school to watch Marscay win the great race. Many years have passed since that day, but the passion is still there and that love of racing has crossed over into becoming his career.

Q: I understand that your interest in racing and breeding come about through your family being involved? It was almost second nature to you?
A: “Yes it did come about that way. My grandfather, dad and uncles always had horses around, and bred quite a few. They weren’t commercial breeders, but bred and raced their own stock and were always involved with the race club in Mudgee and also the local picnic race club. From a very young age I was dragged off to various race meetings in central and western NSW and have fond memories of going racing out that way as a young kid and I still get out there when I can. Magic Millions has an involvement with the Wellington Boot and the Bathurst Race Club and I personally have an involvement with the picnic race club at Mudgee, which is actually known as the Bligh Amateur Race Club. I was the president up until last year, but now am only serving on the committee.
  “I always had a genuine interest in the breeding side of the racing industry. My family were always talking about horses and breeding. My grandfather in particular was very keen on breeding and was considered somewhat of an expert on pedigrees. He always had that ingrained interest, so I guess it is like ‘osmosis’, you just can’t help but pick it up.” 
Q: So was that interest you had from an early age the catalyst for your choice of career?
A: “Actually I fell upon it by accident a little bit. I was at university for a year and then I ended up at Elders Pastoral in the sheep and cattle side of their business. Through a mutual friend Bob Charley, I was introduced to Reg Inglis at the Randwick races one day, one thing led to another and Reg offered me a job at Inglis. At that stage I was only 20, so at that young age I got my start in the industry, and it was very fortuitous.”
Q: Your career in bloodstock has given you opportunities to learn overseas hasn’t it?
A: “Back in the 1980s I had a six month internship at Keeneland, which came about through their Australian representative at the time, Dr Rex Butterfield. I had many varied jobs, as an intern naturally you are expected to do everything asked of you, so I was given many tasks. 
  “Obviously Keeneland has a racetrack too so there was a bit of taking entries for race day, some stewarding on race day, but my primary focus was on the sales side of things. I was organising big sales over there, they have the September Yearling Sale and the November Breeding Stock Sale. Back then the Breeding Stock sale used to go for seven to eight days, but now it goes for 10 to 14 days.
  “They sent me out to Claiborne Farm for a couple of weeks as well, which was really interesting. I rode with the vet out there and I remember one particular day I had to spend the day under an umbrella with an esky full of beer, watching Nijinsky, as they were a bit worried about him at the time. It’s funny the things that you remember over the years. Oh and I got through the beer!
  “When I left Inglis back in 2003, Keeneland approached me to be the Australian representative after Rex retired, and I am still their rep to this day.”
Q: I guess there are a few differences in the racing over in the States in comparison to ours?
A: “It’s certainly very different to the way we race over here, but it’s just the way they do it. I really do enjoy their racing, I enjoy their bloodlines and it’s just such a big industry. Big numbers, big prizemoney and it is really not even in the general media that much.
  “Days like the Kentucky Derby, the Breeders’ Cup, it’s just great racing and the people are very good over there. If you’re in racing, well they just embrace you and it’s really a lot of fun.
  “In so far as big meetings like our Melbourne Cup day, for example, they don’t have as strict a dress code as we do, but in saying that they still do dress up in their typical American way. Another difference I would say is that they ‘race’ in the grandstand. By this I mean that they go there and stay at their box or table and they really don’t move all day, where we tend to go racing and spend a lot of time downstairs or at the bar.
  “Over there they stand and socialise with everyone, then when the race is just about to start they turn around and watch it, then participate in that, before turning back around to their socialising. I’d say that is probably the biggest difference that I noticed in the two styles of racing.
  “You know I saw the other day that the most recent Kentucky Derby attracted 170,000 people! Well that’s mind blowing even by Melbourne Cup standards. 
So there is a huge interest in it, but much like ours it has become very ‘event focused’. Your day to day racing doesn’t attract a lot of interest, but at the big marquee events, they practically fall out of trees to get there.”
Q: I guess during your time in the racing industry you would have owned a few horses yourself?
A: “I have, I really love it and I’ve been fortunate enough to race some handy ones. Not really any household names, but horses the ilk of Perfect Crime who won a $1m race; Before Too Long, she won 
a Champagne Stakes at Moonee Valley; Down the Wicket won a Black Opal; and Mimzical who was a very good city performer. Again, not any superstars, but I have really had a lot of fun over the years racing horses. I’ve not only raced horses here in Australia, but also over in the States as well.”
Q: A lot of racing folk have an interest in other sports as well. Is that true for you too?
A: “In high school I was heavily involved in rugby and cricket and over the years got into refereeing rugby. I did quite a lot of it when I lived in Sydney and got up to a fairly high level, but I am probably what you would call semi-retired. These days it’s more about my three boys and their sport and their environment, it’s great fun, and I’m very much into that side of things now.”
Q: Do any of your boys show an interest in racing?
A: “The youngest boy, who is nine years-old, is actually showing a little interest. It’s funny, the other day when we were talking somebody said ‘carpe diem’, and he said ‘that was the horse that was in the Kentucky Derby’. So he’s even picking up on what’s happening over there.
  “The other two aren’t really interested at this stage, but maybe one day they will work out that there’s beer and pretty girls there and they might turn up then!”
Q: Your family’s home is now on the Gold Coast, how do you like it there?
A: “We moved here when I started work for Magic Millions, and my wife Nicole, myself, plus our three boys Harry, Charlie and Will are very happy here. We live just south of the Magic Millions complex at Sorrento, and it’s a great lifestyle. Nicole is a small animal vet and works a couple of days a week here on the coast. She enjoys going to the races occasionally, on the days when there’s a big event or we have a horse racing.”
Q: Do you have any interests or hobbies other than the rugby refereeing, outside of racing that you enjoy?
A: “Yes, actually something that a lot of people might not know about me is that I am involved in a winery back home in Mudgee that my uncle, cousin and myself run. It’s something we really enjoy and it’s a lot of fun.
  “The winery is called Burrundulla and our best seller is a rose which is extremely popular, but my personal favourite is the cabernet sauvignon that we put out. The winery really is a great thing to be involved in, we certainly aren’t going to retire from it, but we enjoy going to the different trade shows and serving and talking about our wine. I think the winery is a really good outlet away from everything else.” 
Q: I guess over the years you would have had certain people who have become a big influence in your job as a bloodstock agent?
A: “Without question the most significant influence on my career has been Reg Inglis, he employed me and I worked for him for 15 years and we have become very good friends. There’s no doubt that his influence has become very important. Rogers Beasley at Keeneland, he was my boss when I was over there in 1989 and once again, we became great mates and have kept in close contact. He has been a great sounding board over many years for me and every time I have gone to Kentucky we would catch up and have 
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  “Of course there’s also been many clients and associates I’ve met over the years, people like the late Phillip Esplin, he was a big influence. People like Richard Kelly from Newhaven Park Stud, those guys were once again, very good sounding boards and had great ideas and knowledge of the industry and I enjoyed talking to people like them.”
Q: What advice could you give somebody who wants to get into the industry and be successful?
A: “I’d say firstly don’t be intimidated by anybody, just get on the phone and talk to people. If you do manage to get an opening of any kind, just crash through that door! Then once you are inside, get on and do anything that anybody asks you, with a smile on your face. If you look like you enjoy what you are doing and are willing to ‘put in’ and do as much as you can, that will carry you a long way.
  “People who are not only inside the organisation, but also on the outside notice things like that and you can get picked up. While you might not be doing that number one job you are dreaming about, you can still move in that direction as you get a start. The key really is to put that smile on your face.” n