He may have been fined $10,000 for a Covid breach on Melbourne Cup Day but one word has earned Brae Sokolski the sum many times over.
The self-titled ‘luckiest man in the world’ turned a one-word email into a monster $A5.3 million payday thanks to his golden touch with racehorses.
Brae Sokolski was so overcome with emotion after seeing Verry Elleegant and Incentivise finish first and second in the Melbourne Cup that he didn’t even realise he had breached Flemington racecourse’s strict Covid protocols, which cost him $10,000.
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As 10,000 punters celebrated the ‘race that stops a nation’ under blazing sunshine, no one was happier than 45-year-old Sokolski.
A relative unknown compared to heavyweights such as John Magnier, JP McManus, Godolphin and more, the Australian businessman had just achieved the Holy Grail of racing Down Under.
Sokolski apologised to stewards for jumping a fence and entering a no-go area to celebrate with the horse and trainer Chris Waller.
But what he need not ever apologise for is the magical moment he first set eyes upon Incentivise.
The horse, the red-hot favourite to win who ultimately fell just short, has been the undoubted superstar of the season in Australia.
Sokolski’s journey to ownership of the five-year-old phenom started not at a yard, a gallops or through word of mouth – but at Sydney Airport.
There, a one-word email he sent to himself was to turn into $A5.3m less than six months later.
Sokolski told The Australian: “I don’t follow Queensland racing that closely. I was in transit. It was in June this year, when we could actually travel. We were going to Narooma for a weekend away for my birthday.
“We were in the lounge, waiting for the plane, and I asked them to turn on the Sky Channel. For no reason other than I just love watching horses go around.
“I saw the last couple of furlongs of the race at Eagle Farm, where he (Incentivise) won by nine-and-a-half lengths.
“I’d never heard of the horse but he did something you don’t see too often.
“It wasn’t just the margin. It was the way he was still going away at the line, untouched.
“I thought to myself, ‘f***, That looked pretty special’.
“So I sent myself the email. All it said was, ‘Incentivise’.”
A weekend of partying followed before Sokolski got back to the office on Monday morning.
The email was still sitting there.
He continued: “I had this epiphany. I’d never seen a horse do what he had done in such a short period of time.
“I said to myself, ‘there’s something special about this horse. I have to be involved’.
“At that point in time, the horse wasn’t even in the Melbourne Cup market. He was still flying under the radar.
“I got Steve Tregea’s (former trainer of Incentivise and co-owner) number through a contact and basically cold-called him to get the ball rolling.
“It took about a week to get the deal done.”
Sokolski, a top property guru, got the cheque book out and paid $600,000 for 50 per cent ownership.
It proved to be a shrewd investment.
Incentivise has won three straight races after Sokolski came onboard, earning connections $4.3m before the $1m Melbourne Cup second place.
All the while Sokolski also had ownership of Verry Elleegant, the 16-1 outsider who gave Incentivise his first taste of defeat.
When the favourite – who some bookies were so certain would win they paid out $5.6m on him before the race – slowed rounding the final corner of the Melbourne Cup and Verry Elleegant thundered past, the incredible one-two looked on.
And so it worked out, with the winner bringing in $4,268,000 and the runner-up $1,067,000 – $5,335,000 in all.
Sokolski said: “I send myself emails for things that are important. Things I don’t want to forget.
“We were going to have a big weekend and I would probably have forgotten all about it.
“Come Monday morning in the office, there was the email from myself that said it. Incentivise.”
This story first appeared in The Sun and was republished with permission.