Scone’s The New Home For Englishman Cobi Vitler

It’s been a slow burn for Englishman Cobi Vitler but he’s now hit his straps and is beginning to be recognised with more riding opportunities.

Careers in filmmaking, visual effects and game development are miles away from horse racing, but that’s the path English jockey Cobi Vitler could well have travelled.

Vitler, 24, has been in Australia for five and half years where he is based at Scone in the Upper Hunter Valley.

Scone-based jockey Cobi Vitler. Image by Bradley Photographers

Born and raised in Herstmonceux, a village in the Wealden District of East Sussex two hours south east of London, Vitler went to primary and secondary school where he studied design and technology, animation and performing arts.

“Those subjects were my first major interest but then I deviated quite a bit when I then went to Plumpton College – I ended up studying ‘game’ part of which is pheasant shooting,” Vitler explained.

But again, Vitler made another radical career change: “It all started when I was dropped off by my parents at a riding school for weekends.

“There I met a fellow by the name of Berty and we got along great.

“Berty was obsessed with horse racing and suggested we enrol in a course at the Pony Racing Academy for a bit of a laugh.

“That was the start of my racing journey – it was a 12-week course. Berty ended up getting a Point-to-Point licence which is pretty big at home.

“But I then carried it into the Level 1 course at the British Racing School in Newmarket which went for nine weeks and I then went straight into employment.

“It was there a mate said he was going to Sydney and that he had an extra plane ticket, so I had nothing to lose and jumped at the chance.

“I started off riding trackwork for John Sargent at Randwick for six months then spent a year at Scone with John Ramsey.”

Vitler then joined the strong Brett Cavnough stable where he is now receiving many more riding opportunities.

“Next year my four-year sponsorship Visa runs out, so I’ll be applying for permanent residence as I love it out here.

Cobi Vitler lands the Walcha Cup aboard Danza in the Dark. Image by Bradley Photographers

“I haven’t been back home to the UK since I’ve been here, but I flew out my Mum and younger sister.

“I speak with Mum on the phone three or four times a week, but I’ve got no interest in heading back home at the moment.

“I’m just starting to get a roll on and receive more opportunities on better horses, so I’d like to keep up the momentum.

“I’m receiving a lot of help with trainers supporting me.”

But it hasn’t always been smooth sailing for the Englishman when seriously injured.

“I was going into a stall to give some treatment to a horse when it suddenly whipped around, kicked out and double-barrelled me,” Vitler recalled.

“I received a Grade 3 lacerated spleen and was off work for 12 weeks; I was very lucky it wasn’t more serious although I still get the odd pain there.”

Vitler is one of the form jockeys in the NSW bush landing winning doubles at Walcha, Tamworth and Grafton in early February and took out the Walcha Cup, Quirindi Cup, Barraba Cup and Inverell Diggers Cup as well as the feature race, the Phil Hughes Flying at Bowraville last December.

“A lot of my improvement must be credited to Brett [Cavanough] trying to get the ‘English style’ out of me,” Vitler said. “Brett told me to get lower in the saddle and curl up into a ball, or the ‘Martini shape’ as they call it.

“Brett has plans for both Braith [Nock – fellow apprentice] and I, eventually riding at the Provincials.”

When he’s not riding Vitler like to chill out on his PC: “That is my relaxation, but I also enjoy going for a run when I get the time.

“But the riding keeps me pretty fit these days. I used to ride at 51 kilos but I’m now riding comfy and happy at 53 kilos.

“Scone is lovely and I’m enjoying my time here; it’s just far enough to be a bit isolated but close enough to be social.”

Racing NSW

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