Even lining up in the Melbourne Cup is an enormous achievement for any jockey, and winning it is on another level entirely for the few who are lucky enough to do so. Over the course of its 160-year history, a number of them have separated themselves from the rest as legendary Melbourne Cup jockeys, and these are five of the most notable among them.
1. Harry White
Harry White had plenty of chances to win the Melbourne Cup, having ridden in it on a huge 26 occasions, but during a period in the 1970s he capitalised on those starts as much as any other jockey in history. Between 1974 and 1979, he rode his horse to victory in four of the six Melbourne Cups – the first two came on Think Big in ‘74 and ‘75, while he again did the double on Arwon and Hyperno in ‘78 and ‘79. Those four wins are the equal most by any jockey in history, tied with the next man on this list.
2. Bobby Lewis
Like White, Bobby Lewis also had plenty of chances to win the Melbourne Cup, and he also managed to do so on four occasions. Unlike White, however, his wins were spread across his long and celebrated riding career. His first win came aboard the aptly named The Victory in 1902, before he had to wait another 13 years for his second. 25 years after his first win, he rode Trivalve to victory in 1927 for his fourth and final win, making him the most successful jockey in the event’s history – a title he still holds today.
3. Michelle Payne
Michelle Payne might not have the volume of wins as the above two names, but while her success in the race lacks in quantity, it certainly makes up for in quality. In 2015, Payne became the first ever female jockey to win the Melbourne Cup, having ridden Prince of Penzance to victory in the 155th edition of the event. Making the win even more momentous was just how improbable it was – her mount jumped at the enormous odds of $101, meaning not only was it the first win for a female jockey, it was also just the fourth time in race history that a horse at triple figure odds took it out.
4. Peter St. Albans
Peter St. Albans might be one of the only jockeys who has a win which can rival Payne for momentousness. His solitary victory came way back in 1876, 15 years after the inaugural edition of the event, which incredibly took place before St. Albans was even born. Queries surround his exact age at the time of his win – the minimum legal age for the jockeys back then was 13, though many reports suggest he was just shy of his 12th birthday when he rode Briseis to victory.
5. Glen Boss
Boss can probably count himself lucky to be on this list, but given the incredible feat he achieved aboard Makybe Diva it would be hard to leave him off. Makybe Diva, of course, made history as the first and only horse to win three Melbourne Cups when she took it out in 2003, 2004 and 2005, with Boss aboard each and every time. Boss would be the first to admit that he benefited from riding an incredible horse, but nonetheless he had to steer her to victory, and that’s just what he did.
A number of jockeys have made names for themselves at the Melbourne Cup, and winning it is a career highlight for all who are fortunate enough to salute on the grandest stage. The above five names, however, are among the most celebrated, be it for the sheer volume of success they have enjoyed, or for the incredible circumstances which surrounded their victories.