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JOCKEYS Past & Present

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    Posted: 04 Jun 2023 at 10:56am
Very interesting article on one of Victorias' many successful jockeys of years gone by Big smile

Paul Richards: Craig, you’re giving up riding.

Craig Dinn: Yep, I’ve been riding work for Godolphin (James Cummings ’s stable) at Flemington for the past five years and last Saturday was my last morning.

Who was the last horse you rode?

It was a three-year-old called Legio Ten. He won at Bendigo the other day (May 17). He goes okay.

And why are you giving it away?

Well, I’m 58 now. I was having a chat to Reg Fleming and Sean Keogh from Godolphin a few months back and told them I didn’t think I could do another winter. I finished riding on Saturday and got up here to my place on the Gold Coast on Monday for a short break. I’m 200 metres from the beach and looking forward to enjoying some warm weather instead of getting up at 3.30 every morning to ride in the cold at Flemington. I’ve been riding at Flemington for 40 years. I’ve had enough. I’ve been lucky that I’ve never broken any bones and I get to leave on my terms and on good terms. If it wasn’t for Godolphin giving me a job five years back I would have given it up ages ago.

Has Flemington changed much 40 years?

A lot. When I started there were no tunnels under the track. There were no lights either, so we were working them in the dark with just a lamp on our heads, if we were lucky. There were no sand tracks or polytracks. It was just turf.

Let’s go right back. How did you get involved with racing?

Roy Higgins (champion rider) was a good friend of the family. His wife Janine’s sister went to school with my mum at Heatherton State School. I was small and Roy said If I ever wanted to become a jockey to let him know. I was living on the Gold Coast for a little while when I decided to come back to Melbourne and have a go. I stayed with Roy and the plan was that I’d ride trackwork for a few months and see if I liked it. Roy was good friends with Tommy Hughes at Flemington, so I went along and he took me on as an apprentice.

So Roy taught you how to ride?

Yes, he and Gary Murphy, who was also riding for Tommy, were a great help. When I first started riding winners I was being touted by the media as Roy’s protégé.

How was the exposure?

Fine, because Tommy’s stable was a punting stable and one of the first things I was taught was to keep my mouth shut and my eyes open. So, the press would ask me questions but I wouldn’t say much so they stopped asking me. I also rode for George Hanlon, and it was the same thing.

You mentioned Tommy Hughes’s stable was a punting one. Did the boss always give you a sling?

Not always. But I rode a few winners for Mark Read back when he was training. There were a few nice results there. I remember one day a horse called Track Jester ... I rode him first up at Ballarat over 1000m and let’s just say he wasn’t fit enough — he finished seventh. Mark had a 1400-metre race at Werribee picked out for him and wanted to run him in a 1200-metre race beforehand. I said, “No, don’t — he’s going too well. He’ll win it.” So he held off and was able to get a nice return on the race he’d planned all along.

Do you remember your first winner?

Yes, I rode a double on Vanuatu and Fittipaldi at Kyneton on July 1, 1982. They were both for Tommy Hughes.

And your first city winner?

Fiery Embers at Flemington on July 9, 1983. I beat David Charles narrowly (Asterman). I used to look up to him as a rider back then and now, 40 years on, he’s working for Godolphin in Sydney and I’ve been working for them in Melbourne.

You are pretty good with the dates.

Ha ha. When I knew we were catching up I dug out my old scrapbooks so I had an idea what you might want to talk about.

You rode Combat in the Melbourne Cup that year.

For TJ (Tommy) Smith. We led going past the post the first time.

Really? You ended up finishing second-last (23rd). When did you realise you weren’t going to win?

Probably in the jockeys’ room before the race. He was a 100/1 chance.

Do you remember the day you won the Chirnside Stakes on Lake Worth at Caulfield (1985)?

Yes, I came back to scale and all the punters were booing. I didn’t care because I’d won the race. Rory’s Jester was the odds-on favourite but he forced the gates open before the starter said go. A couple ended up running the whole course, but the rest of us pulled our horses up and went back to the start. They scratched the other two, then started the race again. Rory’s Jester didn’t jump that well and ended up missing a place.

You won your first Group 1 the following year on Simbolico (1986).

Yes, the VRC Sires’ Produce. I won it again on Rechabite (1989) a few years later. Simbolico was a pretty talented two-year-old. I think he would have developed into a good horse in the spring. He won a trial, but then got crook and died. Rechabite was a bit moody but very good.

You also won a Gadsden Stakes (now Champions Sprint) on Taj Quillo (1986) for Bart Cummings.

I’ll never forget that day. I knew he was a good chance but I was a bit nervous given it was such a big race. Anyway, just as Bart was about to leg me up, I asked him, “How do you want me to ride him?” He just said, “You know what you’re doing. Good luck.” It was such a vote of confidence.

I read a report where Bart’s stable foreman Leon Corstens wondered what the hell you were doing when you let Bullion Broker go past you at the 250m mark.

I don’t remember that. I was always a very patient rider so it doesn’t surprise me that he was concerned when Bullion Broker hit the lead, but I was always confident in Taj Quillo. He raced in the same colours as Taj Rossi, white with the brown hoops.

Speaking of Taj Rossi (1972 Cox Plate), I believe Bart considered Broad Reach the best three-year-old he’d had since him after he won the Moonee Valley (Stutt) Stakes in 1986.

Did he really? Well, he was very good. I remember before the race at the Valley, I rode him in work and he didn’t seem right. I told Bart and he said, “He’s okay but I’ll check him out.” After he won a few days later he said, “Still think he’s sore, son?”

You might have been right though as I believe he wasn’t right after the Caulfield Guineas.

He finished a close third to Abaridy, who was a 250/1 chance. Broad Reach hung out most of the way and then pulled up sore.

You also won a very rich race on Prince Regent at the Gold Coast (Southern Cross 3YO Classic, 1989).

It was worth over $500,000 to the winner. There were only a handful of races like that back then. I only got the ride because Neil Williams had a fall and wasn’t able to take the mount. I was up there on holiday and he rang me on the Monday and asked if I wanted to ride it. I said, “No, I’m on holidays. I don’t want it.” Anyway, he convinced me to take it, then he drew very wide and it poured rain in the lead-up. Kelso Wood was the trainer and he said, “I don’t think he’ll handle the wet track. Just try to get him some cover and see how you go.” Anyway, he flew the gates and I got across to lead and hugged the paint the whole way. He won easily.

Who was the best horse you rode?

I rode a two-year-old for Cliff Fahler called How Proud. He won three Saturdays in a row. He could have been anything, but he wasn’t quite right when he ran fourth in the Maribyrnong Plate (1984) and died in his paddock soon after.

You gave away race riding in October 2003. Why was that?

I’d been finding it hard to get rides and I’d just had enough. My brother Peter was a builder, and he had a good project going on the Gold Coast. He asked me to go and help him, so I gave it away and went and did that.

Did you miss race riding?

Not at all. I’d always planned to be a builder at some stage. I did it for a few years, then that project finished up. I was sitting at home one day flicking through the paper and saw an ad for an English-speaking person to go and be a teacher in South Korea. I thought that could be fun, so I applied and got the job. I did that for three months, teaching English, science and economics to kids aged between five and 12.

Were science and economics your specialties at school before you became a jockey?

Ha ha, no. Given I was teaching young kids I thought, “How hard could that be?” I managed to get by.

You also did a bit of acting, with a role in Ride Like a Girl.

Well, I got paid well for half a day’s work. I was only in the background, walking from the mounting yard to the scales, but it took all afternoon to film it.

What will you do now you’ve given up riding track work?

When I came back to Australia from South Korea I got a job with Sophie Clark Saddlery, making horse rugs, head collars etc as well as making repairs to other bits of gear. I’ve been doing that for 10 years and had been riding work at Flemington as a second job. I’ll keep working at Sophie’s so I’ll still sort of be involved in the industry.

Excellent. Craig, great to catch up and well done on 40 years in the saddle and all the best for the future.

Thanks for the call, Paul. It’s good to finally talk to the media after not being allowed to when I was riding.



Edited by Gay3 - 27 Jan 2024 at 4:22pm
Wisdom has been chasing me but I've always outrun it!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote acacia alba Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 Jan 2024 at 2:59pm
So no one has an RIP for Bill Camer ?  Gone at 92.  Rode winners of the Cox Plate  ( 1954 on Kingster ) ,  Stradbroke,    ( Karendi , Wiggle, Divide and Rule ). The 75 Epsom on Authentic Heir.
They say when he became an apprentice at 14, he was  1.24m ( 4 foot 1 inch) and weighed 26kg.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Carioca Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 Jan 2024 at 3:12pm
I searched high and low for this , this morning , not a skerrick on nsw racing website either 😡😡 , I'm a fan , in fact a huge fan ! the best lightweight jockey I've ever seen ! well alongside Peter Cook that is , he was described as having the perfect body for a jock , wide. at the shoulder , then tapered down to nothing , his arse was once described as like two hard boiled eggs wrapped in a handkerchief 😂😂 , in the saddle , was absolute perfection , a little cheeky , bit like Frankie , I was told in my teenage years he was of Italian stock , Camerelli became Camer ( so it goes ) was apprenticed to Pat Murray , at 7 stone 4 pound , was all dynamite , Vale Billy Camer , a true pro. StarStarStar
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Passing Through Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 Jan 2024 at 3:17pm

‘Real larrikin' Bill Camer dies


Bill Camer, once described as the smallest jockey in the world, passed away on Saturday morning. He was 92.

The indefatigable Camer rode in a golden era of Sydney racing and held his own against all-time great jockeys like George Moore, Neville Sellwood, Jack Thompson, Athol (George) Mulley, Ray Selkrig, Arthur Ward and Billy Cook.

Camer was regarded as an outstanding lightweight rider and won many big races.

In 1954 he rode the winners of the Cox Plate on Kingster, and the Doncaster Mile and Stradbroke Handicaps on Karendi.

He also won Stradbroke Handicaps on two-year-old filly Wiggle (1958) and Divide And Rule (1970).

Camer was still riding at the top level later in his career and won the 1975 Epsom Handicap on outsider Authentic Heir.

Sky Racing's Ron Dufficy began his working life as a jockey and when he took out his apprenticeship in the late 1970s, Camer was still riding.

"Billy was a character, a real larrikin,'' Dufficy said.

"When I was an apprentice, he was still riding and was the fittest, old bloke you could ever imagine – he was as hard as nails.'' more...

http://www.racenet.com.au/news/cox-plate-doncaster-milewinning-jockey-bill-camer-dies-aged-92-20240127

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Carioca Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 Jan 2024 at 3:25pm
I'm pretty sure he won the Washington International Invation on the wonderfull Ozzie horse Sailors Guide  too. StarStarStar
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Gay3 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 Jan 2024 at 3:52pm

‘Real larrikin' Bill Camer dies


Bill Camer, once described as the smallest jockey in the world, passed away on Saturday morning. He was 92.

The indefatigable Camer rode in a golden era of Sydney racing and held his own against all-time great jockeys like George Moore, Neville Sellwood, Jack Thompson, Athol (George) Mulley, Ray Selkrig, Arthur Ward and Billy Cook.

Camer was regarded as an outstanding lightweight rider and won many big races.

In 1954 he rode the winners of the Cox Plate on Kingster, and the Doncaster Mile and Stradbroke Handicaps on Karendi.

He also won Stradbroke Handicaps on two-year-old filly Wiggle (1958) and Divide And Rule (1970).

Camer was still riding at the top level later in his career and won the 1975 Epsom Handicap on outsider Authentic Heir.

Sky Racing's Ron Dufficy began his working life as a jockey and when he took out his apprenticeship in the late 1970s, Camer was still riding.

"Billy was a character, a real larrikin,'' Dufficy said.

"When I was an apprentice, he was still riding and was the fittest, old bloke you could ever imagine – he was as hard as nails.''

A son of Italian immigrants, Camer's father, Tranquillo Camera, was born in Italy of Swiss parents.

The family resettled in Ayr, Queensland, where Camer got a job as a newspaper delivery boy.

Camer later told the story how he was doing his rounds one day when he was asked if he wanted to be a jockey.

The youthful Camer had no knowledge of horse racing and famously replied: "What the hell is a jockey?"

When Camer was persuaded to become an apprentice jockey as a 14-year-old, he stood only 1.24m (four foot, one inch) and weighed just 26kg (four stone, two pounds) and was reputed to be the smallest jockey in the world.

Even at the peak of his career, Camer grew to only 1.6m (five foot, three inches) and 48kg (seven stone, 10 pounds) but was renowned for his natural horsemanship and strength in a finish.

Camer, who initiated the original Australian Jockeys Association in the 1960s, is survived by his wife Barbara, son Bradley and daughter Tina.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Gay3 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 Mar 2024 at 2:26pm

Legendary jockey who won an incredible 1500 races dies, throwing the racing industry into mourning

  • A legendary jockey has died at the age of 93 
  • Cliff Clare won over 1500 races 
  • He retired from horse racing at the age of 62 

By OLLIE LEWIS

PUBLISHED: 

The racing world has been sent into mourning following the death of legendary former jockey Cliff Clare.

Racing NSW has confirmed that Clare, who won more than 1500 races during a career that spanned 45 years, died on Wednesday.

'Cliff Clare was a quietly spoken, modest gentleman who was greatly respected by all,' said Racing NSW's Chief Executive, Mr Peter V'landys AM.

'Aside from being a leading jockey competing against some of the best we've ever seen, Cliff was always generous with his time and gave back to the industry, having been a much-valued member of Racing NSW's Appeal Panel for two decades.

'We would like to pass on our sincere condolences to Cliff's family and friends.'

Clare came from a large family in Denman (Hunter Valley) being the youngest of 10 children before the family moved to Muswellbrook. After turning 16, his mother took him to the Australian Jockey Club in Sydney where he picked up an apprenticeship after Clare had heard an advertisement on radio.

His maiden win came at his favourite racecourse Kembla Grange aboard Fort Game, and last year Clare was inducted into the inaugural Illawarra Turf Club Legends program at that course.

Mr Clare teamed up with Rosehill trainer Ted Stanton and enjoyed a hugely successful partnership, with one of his career highlights being his 1967 victory in the Golden Slipper aboard the Jack and Bob Ingham-owned 40/1 roughie Sweet Embrace: 'Can you believe it is the only Golden Slipper that has no vision due to a technical malfunction,' Clare said.

George Moore, in Clare's opinion, was one of the best jockeys he rode against: 'George was a great thinker; he'd know whether you were a right or left-hand whip rider and could predict which way your horse was going to shift.'

Clare also featured in a famous movie 'The Sundowners' in the mid-1950s: 'That was a lot of fun, a few of us had to ride these racehorses up and down the straight on the dirt.'

In July 1990, Clare somehow found a narrow inside passage to get up and win on Crown Joker at Rosehill.

An astonished John Tapp, the race commentator, announced over the course broadcast that Clare was nearly 60, pointing out he'd ridden a 'dashing and daring race for a rider of his years'.

'I came back to a reception like I'd won another Golden Slipper – I thought what's going on here?'

He continued riding in races up until he was 62 before retiring. He was appointed to the Racing Appeal Panel where he served from 2001 to 2022.

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