Nice to meet you: Paul Wilcox, CEO of Auckland Racing Club

13 May 2020
Auckland Thoroughbred Racing

To some, he’s a (great!) boss. To others, he’s the CEO of one of New Zealand’s biggest racing clubs. Then there’s a whole bunch of other ‘caps’ he wears too – father, husband, keen gardener, talented whistler, budding builder, trained chef & beginner horse rider to name a few.

In between managing a business in lockdown and enjoying ‘Tipping Point’ on TV, Auckland Racing Club (ARC) CEO, Paul Wilcox (or, “PW” as he’s known by many), found the time to answer some very important questions we presented to him.



Do you remember your first ever day at the races? If so, what was the one thing that stood out and made you want to go back?

It was at Matamata Racecourse with my Dad and I found a $5 winning ticket on the ground.

Naturally I wanted to go back whenever there was racing on so I could find another “winner”.

What’s one thing you’d like Kiwis to know about…

A day at the races?
Racing is a good social occasion and allows for great networking.

You get to meet a variety of people from varying walks of life and the chats are only interrupted for a short period whilst the racing is happening.

The sport itself?

Firstly, the horses love to run. They also have such a beauty about them pre and post race.

There’s also a huge amount of love and care given to the horses by those who stand behind them – from the jockeys to the trainers, grooms, owners, vets, transporters, farriers and more. The amount of love that goes into a racehorse is special to see.

What has been your best-ever raceday?

The day we returned to racing here at Ellerslie following our track upgrade and stables rebuild.

These projects were large bodies of work that were thankfully completed on time and on budget… but we also needed them to live up to expectations.

Seeing how well they performed on that first raceday back is most definitely my best-ever raceday.

You’re starting out in a new (dream!) career – what is it?

All Blacks coach!

You can be one for a day… who’s it going to be (and why!)?

1. Trump or Kim Jon Un?
Trump, only because he is not as crazy as Kim Jon Un and his press conferences are very humorous. Also, imagine being his press secretary..! (Can I just say too that neither would be good though)

2. Melania Trump or Clarke Gayford?
Clarke Gayford. It must be pretty cool having the missus as the PM, getting to meet some amazing, different people and being able to travel the world. Plus, he’s a kiwi

3. James McDonald or Chris Waller?
J Mac. I have known him for a while and he is a super person doing some special things; but so is Chris Waller too. They’re both great Kiwi athletes

4. Gigi Hadid or Caroline Wozniacki?
Caroline. She’s an amazing tennis player and I’ve seen her play live too

5. Lionel Messi or Dan Carter?
Dan Carter… when I’m in my new dream career as the ABs coach (LOL)

6. Mufhasa or Burgundy?
Both horses very special to me [Ed’s note: PW had shares in Burgundy] but one that holds an extra special spot in my heart is the mighty mare Sunline.

Paul with 10-time Group 1 winner and ARC favourite, Mufhasa


You’re the star of ‘This Is Your Life’ – who will be the mystery guests that come on to talk about you & what would they say?

The last trainer that won at Ellerslie before lockdown and they’ll definitely say, “the track was perfect”.


You’ve been at the helm of ARC for nearly three years now, what has surprised you most about the place and the job?

As above. The trainers can lose a race and hate your track, but then they’ll win the next race and say “it’s a beauty”.

If you could pick a horse based off one thing only, what would it be and why?

How it parades pre-race. [Ed note: Seems PW is holding exactly what he looks at in that pre-parade close to his chest…)

Who is your all-time favourite horse?



Outside of racing, ARC is Ellerslie Event Centre – a large function venue that serves all sorts of meals to cater for the vast range of events it hosts…

What’s your favourite thing on the menu currently and what would be your signature dish if Chef ever lets you into the kitchen?

My favourite thing on the menu is Chef’s smoked brisket.

In keeping with the beef theme, my go-to signature dish (if Chef let me come cook in his kitchen one day!) would be slow-cooked beef cheeks

You’re a dab hand in the kitchen, having been a professional chef in a past life – what culinary ‘hack’ can you share with us?

Any casserole, soup or slow-cooked food is better the next day. The flavours are so much stronger and fuller

What’s one thing that has surprised you about yourself during lockdown?

I’ve been doing some painting and building and discovered I’m actually quite good at the building.

Our guest room has come up very well indeed!

Best leadership advice you’ve ever given or received?

Have the uncomfortable conversation and never be afraid to say “I got it wrong”.

If you had $10 left to your name, how would you turn it into a fortune?

I would buy stocks now before they turn and recover

And finally…you have to give up one – which is it: Twitter or whistling?


Twitter would be lost without @RPWillie!

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