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With such a large prize pool at stake and the eyes of the nation focused on the big race, the quality of Melbourne Cup jockeys is only surpassed by the quality of stayers that make up the Melbourne Cup field at Flemington Racecourse on the first Tuesday of November each spring.
Many Melbourne Cup jockeys have become as well known as the horses they rode to victory in the ‘Race That Stops A Nation’, such as the following legendary Melbourne Cup riders.
Legendary Melbourne Cup Jockeys
John ‘Cutts’ Dillon rode Archer past the winning post in the first two Melbourne Cup events in 1861 and 1862. John Cutts was one of the most well respected jockeys in his era and rode for many trainers during his long career on the racetrack.
Peter St Albans
Peter St Albans rode Briseis to success in 1876, while only 13 years old. Controversy surrounded St Albans’ Cup victory as it was believed at the time he was not yet 13 and therefore too young to ride, but this has since been disproved. He went on to have a short-lived racing career, but he had a successful career in training before passing away at the age of 35.
Frank Reys was the first (and so far only) Aboriginal Melbourne Cup jockey to win the race. He rode Gala Supreme to success in 1973, and confusion surrounds the story of Reys because he frequently claimed to be of Filipino descent. However, evidence now confirms that his maternal grandmother was from the Djiribul aboriginal tribe from Northern Queensland.
Bobby Lewis is one of two jockeys to win the Melbourne Cup 4 times. He took out the grand prize on The Victory in 1902, Patrobas in 1915, Artilleryman in 1919 and Trivalve in 1927.
The other jockey to win the Cup 4 times is incredible Harry White, who won on Think Big in 1974 and 1975, Arwon in 1978 and Hyperno in 1979. His Melbourne Cup winning rides for Bart Cummings, the greatest of all the Melbourne Cup trainers, made for a wonderful partnership between two legends of Australian racing. White is also in the Melbourne Cup history books for having ridden in a record 26 editions of the the ‘race that stops a nation’.
Glen Boss is perhaps the most famous Melbourne Cup jockey in recent years, as he rode the mighty Makybe Diva past the winning post in three successive years: 2003, 2004 and 2005. This set a new record both for horse with most wins and jockey with most consecutive Melbourne Cup wins – a feat that is unlikely to be replicated any time soon.