Godolphin ready to play in the ring and on the track

5 min read
With three horses involved in the Magic Millions Raceday and lofty plans for the yearling sale, it shapes as a big week on the Gold Coast for Godolphin.

Twelve months after dipping its toe back in the Magic Millions waters, Godolphin is ready to make a bigger splash this year, with a trio of representatives on the track and well-laid plans for what they want to get out of the sales ring from the Yearling Sale which begins on Wednesday.

The start of January has long been the busiest time of year for Godolphin's Australian Managing Director Vin Cox, who was previously in charge of Magic Millions, but this is the first time his sole focus has been on securing bloodstock for the global powerhouse at the famous Gold Coast sale.

He was instrumental in convincing Sheikh Mohammed to invest at the 2018 sale, prior to Cox's official arrival at Godolphin, and the result was a haul of eight yearlings.

One of those, a filly called Exhilarates (Snitzel) confirmed herself as the first Godolphin runner in the Magic Millions 2YO Classic when she won a 2-year-old race for trainer James Cummings at the Gold Coast last Saturday.

"I'm absolutely tickled pink that we’ve got a runner in the 2-year-old race, a horse we bought in our first year back," Cox told TDN AusNZ. "She's a live chance in the race. We couldn’t be happier to have her there and we think she is going to give it one hell of a shake."

"I'm absolutely tickled pink that we’ve got a runner in the 2-year-old race, a horse we bought in our first year back." - Godolphin Managing Director, Vin Cox

Being by champion sire Snitzel out of G1 Blue Diamond S. winner Samaready (More Than Ready {USA}), Cox said that Exhilarates always shaped as the most likely of those eight horses to contest the $2m race.

"She's a ready-made horse. She's not a big filly, so she was never going to take a lot of time to come to hand. It was the right recipe and it works."

James Cummings purchasing Exhilarates at the 2018 Magic Millions

Wildcard bonus

The bonus for Godolphin has come with two of their runners, Tally (Street Cry {Ire}) and Manicure (Exceed and Excel), qualifying for wildcard entry into the Magic Millions Trophy and Magic Millions Fillies and Mares respectively with wins at Doomben in late December.

Tally, a winner of nine of his 36 starts, including five at stakes level, got his spot in the 2200m event when he won the Shoot Out Quality, while Manicure, a winner of three from seven, edged out stablemate Demerara (Commands) in the Nudgee S.

The wildcard concept was introduced in 2016 at the insistence of former Racing Queensland chairman Kevin Dixon and Cox, in his previous role, oversaw its implementation.

"The wildcard concept was brought in going back to my time at Magic Millions and we put the $10 million day together. Kevin Dixon was insistent that we have the ability to broaden the scope of Magic Millions day to some degree through wildcard entries and having horses who were either home-bred or sold through an opposition sales company," he said.

"Kevin Dixon was insistent that we have the ability to broaden the scope of Magic Millions day to some degree through wildcard entries." - Vin Cox

Now, his current employer, Godolphin, will reap the benefits of that change in policy.

"It works well for us. Obviously, we breed and race our own and it gave us a chance to be here next Saturday," he said.

Manicure winning her way into the Magic Millions Fillies and Mares race

Making a sales impact

There is an enormous personal satisfaction for Cox that the Blue Army will race in two $1m races and the $2m feature on Saturday.

But ahead of that, he has been busy with Cummings and the rest of the Godolphin crew, inspecting the yearlings ahead of the year's first sale.

"We’ve got our team in place, so we're very impressed with the quality of the horses." - Vin Cox

"We've been doing a lot of work. We’ve got our team in place, so we're very impressed with the quality of the horses and it’s just a matter of applying various things and seeing what comes out the other end," he said.

"We're well down the lines. We are well into third and fourth looks, so we’re pretty happy with where we're going."

The Godolphin team are busy inspecting at the Magic Millions

And it hasn’t taken long for Cox to adapt to talking like a buyer, keeping his cards close to his chest on his plans for the sale.

"It really depends on how the market is and what comes in on our budget. Do we have a plan with a set number of horses to purchase? No we don’t, we'll just see where the market is," he said.

Godolphin bought an even split of fillies and colts last year, four apiece, and Cox expects a similar make-up this time around, with perhaps a slight leaning toward sourcing quality fillies.

"Last year the intent was to buy a few more fillies but we found that the colts were easier to buy. We probably have a slight preference for fillies over colts, but we will see how we go," he said.