Michael Costa is a name that’s still very much unknown in the racing industry but if he has his way that will change pretty quickly.
The New South Wales based 23 year old is taking his first steps towards a long career as a trainer after sacrificing a promising job as a steward.
At just 21 he was already well established in a safe, well paid job with Racing NSW but he decided to leave everything behind in the pursuit of a training license.
He says it was the pursuit of glory as well as the pursuit of freedom which drove his decision, even if his mother didn’t at first agree.
“Mum wasn’t that keen on the idea of me leaving the stewards and becoming a horse trainer,” he said.
“When you sit down with your career adviser at high school, training racehorses is not exactly in the top 30 ideal jobs. But it is something I’ve always had a passion for. I love the game.
“It took a while but eventually I convinced her it was the right thing for me to do and now I employ her. She does all my bookwork and is my No. 1 supporter.”
It wasn’t an easy process for Costa to get his license, first he travelled to Queensland where he studied Equine Acupuncture.
From that base he was able to ride track work at Eagle Farm, learning plenty in a relatively short stint before heading home to Sydney.
He then based himself at Randwick where he was foreman for the stable of Kevin Moses.
It all paid off though and he recently was given a training license and has acquired a team of four horses at his Warwick Farm base.
“I lost touch with the beauty of the sport,” he said.
“As a steward you learn a lot about the industry. I was able to learn from a range of trainers and jockeys. But you spend most of your time dealing with the problems and policing the rules.
“I wanted to get back to working with the horse. I wanted to get back in to the spirit of the sport. I love the thrill of winning or the simple pleasure of having a bet. I have an entrepreneurial brain and wanted to create a company doing something I like.”
He’s a fresh face in what is often considered to be an older man’s game and as a result he’s full of new and innovative ideas.
Technology promises to be at the forefront of Costa’s training style with a range of new developments designed to keep owners more closely in the loop with their horse and the training process.
“We are in the process of building an iPad app that will be linked to our website and owners will be able to log in and watch their horses during the day in real time through cameras set up in the stable,” he said.
“Track work riders I use will have cameras on their helmet and each horse’s work will be uploaded. We will have GPS data and heart-rate monitors, opening up the owning experience and (giving) an insight into how horses are trained.”
He says plenty of credit for his rapid rise should go to his two uncles Peter Manaes and John Vouris who have inspired him to follow his dreams.
“I look up to people like John Singleton and Gerry Harvey,” he said.
“I admire Chris Waller and what he has done as a trainer and Guy Walter has also been a huge help.”