Vain was a chestnut horse foaled in 1966 who was a champion sprinter from 1968 to 1970. He only raced 14 times but won 12 of those races and came second in the other two. He was bred and owner by brothers Walter, Fred and George Johnson from Melbourne, and was trained by Jim Moloney. Pat Hyland was the jockey that rode him for all his wins.
It was clear from the start that he was a very special horse and as a two-year-old he won the Debutant Stakes, Maribyrnong Plate, Merson Cooper Stakes and VRC Sires Produce Stakes by a cumulative margin of 18 lengths. He didn’t just win – he totally humiliated his rivals. Next he contested the Golden Slipper in Sydney which had not been won by a Victorian horse before and charged away to trounce the short-priced Sydney filly Special Girl by four lengths. He then had his first defeat when beaten in the AJC Sires Produce by Beau Babylon on a wet track. The following week in the Champagne Stakes he won by 10 lengths in the fastest time ever recorded by a two-year-old.
As a three-year-old, Vain proved himself as a champion sprinter-miler in the Melbourne Spring Carnival of 1969. He won the Caulfield Guineas by three lengths, the Craven A Stakes on Derby Day by 12 lengths, followed by the Linlithgow Stakes on Oaks Day by six lengths and the George Adams Handicap on the final day carrying 10lb (about 4.5 kg) over weight-for-age. His only defeat as a three-year-old was in the 1969 Moonee Valley Stakes (now called the Bill Stutt Stakes) to Daryl’s Joy, a champion New Zealand colt, who won a Cox Plate, Victoria Derby and later raced successfully in the United States.
Vain suffered a leg injury in a track gallop at the end of his three-year-old season and was retired to stud in 1970 at Widden Stud in the Hunter Valley. He had a long and successful career at stud siring well over 300 winners amongst them were two Golden Slipper winners – Sir Dapper and Inspired (which was Darren Beadman’s first Group 1 win). His name can be found on both sides of the pedigree of Black Caviar.
He died on 25 December 1991 and was inducted into the Australian Racing Hall of Fame in 2003.