Cobi Vitler continues hot run to claim Walcha Cup

Cobi Vitler and the Stephen Meyer-trained Danza In The Dark returned as the winners of the 2024 Wacha Cup.
Image: Bradley Photos.

Apprentice jockey Cobi Vitler is enjoying a golden run, with the 24-year-old booting home three winning doubles in seven days. 

Riding for his boss, Brett Cavanough, he scored on Monazel and Freewheeler at Tamworth on February 3 before picking up a Grafton double on February 6, winning on the Paddy Cunningham-trained Albanjo and the Jason Reilly-trained Subversive. 

At Walcha on Friday, Vitler rode the final two winners on the program, including the biggest win of his career when taking out the famous Walcha Cup. 

Teaming up with Tamworth trainer Stephen Meyer, Vitler rode Danza In The Dark ($6.50) and was caught wide through the 1440m event, to his credit, he stuck to his guns, and a very tough Tamworth galloper worked his way to a half-length victory in the $45,000 event.

“We got caught wide the whole trip, and it was a tough win,” Vitler told NSW Country and Picnic Racing. 

“I wanted to be up in the first four, but it didn’t pan out like that.

“He gave me that feeling and was just travelling, so I stayed wide, but then he came off the bridle at around the 600m, and that’s when I got a bit worried, but he picked back up and was really strong.”

Meyer only has the seven-year-old in work, and Vitler was thrilled to team up with the part-time trainer.

“I hadn’t spoken to Stephen, but I trialled him at Tamworth in December, and I was quite impressed with him then and confident he could run a good race,” Vitler said.

“Unfortunately, I didn’t have the chance to ride him before Friday because I’ve had other commitments.

“I was really keen to ride him, and he had been carrying 61kg in Benchmark 66 (Handicaps), and going to an open, he came back to 55kg, and I think he was overlooked a little in the weights. 

“He had no weight (53kg after Vitler’s claim), and they went hard up front; everything behind them got those cheap sectionals, and we didn’t have to work as they came back to us. 

“Then to win was great, and it was even better because it was for Stephen. He’s just got the one horse, and he does it because he enjoys the sport, and it’s nice to help those small trainers get those big wins.” 

Now 33 wins into his career, the 24-year-old Englishman, who only moved to Australia because of a ‘chance opportunity’, is loving life.

Vitler is in a bit of a groove, knocking up 11 wins from his past 50 starts, and he’s keen to continue the excellent run of results. 

“It’s finally kicking into gear,” Vitler said. 

“I am still learning and always trying to improve, but having trainers supporting me is the biggest part. 

“I’ve won a few non-TAB and half-TAB (Country) Cups, but getting that first full-TAB (Country) Cup is great, and it’s been a good little run of late.”

The Scone-based apprentice, who’s indentured to Brett Cavanough with fellow apprentice and good mate, Braith Nock, wants to continue progressing through the grades. 

“Braith is that year ahead of me, and he’ll soon move to the provincials, and it should give me that chance to use my one-and-a-half (kilo) claim and then get my country claim out of the way,” Vitler said.

Stephen Meyer (second from left) and Cobi Vitler (second from right) with Walcha Jockey Club committee members after winning the Walcha Cup with Danza In The Dark.

“Hopefully, I can move to the provincials the season after that.”

While it was Vitler’s first time at Walcha on Friday, with the apprentice describing it as a ‘different experience’, he is back on deck today for the second day of the club’s carnival. 

On another big day for the club, Vitler takes a full book of five rides and will be out to keep up his good recent form.