The Melbourne Cup is a high stakes race for jockeys in more ways then one. Not only does the winning jockey get a slice of the winner's purse if they win the race, but no Australian jockey can consider themselves masters of their craft without taking this stayers handicap.
Here are five of the greatest Melbourne Cup jockeys of all time.
Harry White's status as the joint top winning jockey in Melbourne Cup history shouldn't come as a surprise, given that he did much of his racing for legendary Melbourne Cup trainer, Bart Cummings. White won the Melbourne Cup in consecutive years on two occasions. He competed in the Melbourne Cup 26 times in his career, which meant he ended his career with a 15% win rate in the Cup. He also cleaned up in other major Victorian races, taking the Cox Plate twice, the Caulfield Cup once and the Australian Cup a record five times.
Bobby Lewis shares Harry White's Melbourne Cup record, winning the race four times over the course of a racing career that spanned 46 years. During the heyday of his career he formed a successful partnership with trainer Jom Scobie and owner Eric Connolly to from a group that dominated Australian racing during the period. Lewis's first win in the Melbourne Cup was achieved in 1902 and his fourth and final Melbourne win was claimed in 1927. He also raced Phar Lap in the 1929 Melbourne Cup, taking third place on that occasion. Other major achievements included winning the Victoria Derby eight times in his career.
Jack Purtell was a force to be reckoned with in the late 1940s and early 1950s. During this period he won the Melbourne Cup three times. 'Gentleman Jack' was one of the most popular jockeys ever to race in Australia, and his celebrity was such that several thousand uninvited guests showed up at his wedding in 1949. Purtell's successes in the Melbourne Cup were matched by his feats in the Cox Plate, which he won four times during his career. The great jockey also won the Caulfield Cup on one occasion. He was inducted into the Australian Racing Hall of Fame in 2004.
Glen Boss qualifies as one of the great Melbourne Cup jockeys of all time thanks to his string of wins on Makybe Diva. That partnership made Boss the first jockey in history to win the Melbourne Cup three years in a row, claiming a record that is likely to stand the test of time. Not only did Boss clean up in the Melbourne Cup between 2003 and 2005, but he also claimed three wins in the Cox Plate on three different horses, confirming his status as one of the finest jockeys in action over the first decade of the new millennium.
Controversial celebrity jockey, Damien Oliver, has racked up three wins in the Melbourne Cup over the course of his career, winning the race once a decade between 1995 and 2013. His 2013 Melbourne Cup win generated controversy as it was achieved soon after coming off a suspension for illegal betting. Oliver's exploits defy his critics, with this Australian jockey boasting four wins in the Caulfield Cup and two in the Cox Plate in addition to his Melbourne Cup haul.
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