John or Coz to his many friends sadly passed away this week. Coz was a doyen among NZ journalists and we were lucky that horse racing was his passion.
Coz was the NZ Racing Hall of Fame’s best supporter and we were honoured to have him as our Patron following on from our old friend the late Don McLaren. Coz’s career was such that we inducted him into the NZ Racing Hall of Fame in 2016 in his own right and his induction ceremony is available for viewing on this channel.
At our most recent induction event in February I sat down with Coz and his daughter Casey at the pre-dinner drinks session for a quick chat and a beer and among the matters we spoke about was my first bet on a horse. I could recall attending the Paeroa races in the 1960s with my father. Coz owned a horse called Geyserland which was running in the open race and had good form. It was my first bet on a horse. Geyserland came out of the barrier and sadly broke down. Coz advised me that he was certain that I would have had better luck since with my betting.
Much has and will be written about Coz but I believe his career and story is well summarized in our inductee film clip which can be viewed at our website and also at our kiosks at Te Papa and the NZ Sports Museum. The NZ Sports Museum is operated by Ron Palenski – another outstanding sports journalist of Coz’s era. He informed me that Coz was rated by his peers as one in a generation.
We have lost a gentleman of the turf. On reflection Coz deserved a knighthood for his services to journalism and racing.
To the NZ Racing Hall of Fame he was our knight – he was our honorary patron.
Chris Luoni - Chairman
The following messages were received from several of our directors who knew Coz well:
Allan Fenwick – Director
Some sad news, Dennis Ryan has advised this morning that John Costello passed away overnight. He was in Hospital and had been in poor health recently. John was not only a Member of the Selection Committee from the outset but more recently has been our Patron.
If you have not yet read yesterday’s edition of The Informant I urge you to do so. John dictated his last article from his Hospital bed and it is a great read, traversing his career and the great horses and racing people he had encountered in his 60 year career as a Journalist.
John’s contribution to the Hall of Fame has been immense, in the early days he provided very, very many profiles for consideration and his books, particularly Tapestry of Turf has been very much the go to record for so many. He was humbled but thrilled when he was inducted into the NZ Racing Hall of Fame. He was certainly unique.
Paul Moroney – Director
That’s very sad news and a great loss to our industry. I had the good fortune to sit alongside Cos in the press rooms of northern racetracks over a number of years and he had a remarkable knowledge of racing which he continually built on from exhaustive research.
John was the best wordsmith among his peers by a country mile and a magnificent story teller whose prose often also exposed his delightful wit.
Humility and sharing his love of the written word were his other outstanding trademarks.
Cos’s advice was always genuine and measured. He was a compassionate man - a true gentleman.