There is nothing Australia loves more than a true sporting hero. The following is a shortlist of some of the greatest athletes that Australian horse racing has produced over the years and their incredible accomplishments in the field.
Inducted into the Australian Racing Hall of Fame in 2008, Damien Oliver is marked as one of the greatest jockeys in the history of Australian horse racing. He won the prestigious Scobie Breasley Medal 11 times and won the 2014/15 Melbourne Jockeys Premiership for the 10th time after riding 60 race winners. He has been surrounded by horse racing all his life. His dad Ray Oliver was a successful jockey himself, unfortunately passing away in a race fall in 1975 in Kalgoorlie. Over his career, Damien has ridden 122 Group 1 winners, including notable races such as his third Melbourne Cup win in 2013 riding Fiorente.
If you want a jockey with a memorable catchphrase, then Hugh Bowman is your man. The Thousand Guineas odds were against him but he managed to come in first and that alone cemented his signature “she’s apples” salute after a win. His multiple wins in not only the G1 races, where he is considered the king, but his four G2 race wins makes his status as a top-tier jockey. Hugh was one of the jockeys to ride Winx, who was considered the best racehorse in the world, from 2014 to 2017. His dedication to the sport alone has earned him a spot on the list of all-time greats.
Winning three Melbourne Cups is “nothing to sneeze at” as Kerrin or any other jockey will tell you. The time and dedication it takes to not just get to the ultimate level but to win three times is something to be admired. His first win was back in 2000 while he was riding Brew and culminated in a trifecta of victories to win in 2018 riding Cross Counter. He also has a family history of horse racing as the brother-in-law of both Michelle Payne who won the Melbourne Cup in 2015 riding Penzance and Brett Pebble who won in 2012 on Green Moon.
Roy Higgens, also known as ‘The Professor’, is a legendary jockey in horse racing circles. He won the Melbourne Jockeys Premiership a record 11 times, only equalled by another great jockey, Bill Duncan. Roy is considered one of the greatest horse racing athletes of all time due to his professionalism and skill. He was inaugurated into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame in 1987 and was given an MBE in 1974 for his services to horse racing. He won the Melbourne Cup twice in the 60s and has a medal named after him.
Who could forget the three consecutive Melbourne Cup victories Glen won while riding Makybe Diva from 2003 to 2005. This man has ridden nearly 2000 wins and has chalked up 90 Group 1 wins during his tenure as a world-class jockey. He has also won four Cox Plates with the latest in 2020 riding Sir Dragonet. Glen is one of the true greats of the jockeying world and has a well-earned place in this list of champions.
The combination of horse and rider is the truest example of teamwork and one that is widely celebrated in Australian sport. These champions have dedicated their lives to the sport and have received ample credit for their commitment.