The tale of the box brownie photo

After a successful career as a jockey and horse trainer, Boambee Gardens resident Barry Jacobs shares a memory of a Melbourne Cup winner.

Barry spent 17 years as a jockey in New Zealand, South Australia, Victoria and Coffs Harbour, winning the Coffs Harbour Cup on Sabre Luck in 1991. He was also a successful horse trainer for 10 years. Here, he tells us a little about his background, and shares a rollicking tale he wrote about a horse he once rode.

In Barry’s words

“Mum was a keen racegoer and two or three of her younger children would tag along with her, including me, when she went to the races.

We children loved it and always had a penny ice-cream and sometimes a meat pie, which would be cut in half with a pocket knife. We knew all the jockeys and told everyone that they were our friends.

I could hardly wait until the day I could put on colours. In my very first horse race after being legged up on the horse, I didn’t know what was happening as I had no idea how to ride. After it was all over, they told me that my horse had run first. What the hell had happened?

“I could hardly wait until the day I could put on colours.”

When I was 21 years old I met a woman about twice my age who said she was a medium and would read my palm. She told me that I would soon have many winners and money, but I had to get rid of my girlfriend. Anyway I went to Australia for two years for a holiday and rest, however that was over 60 years ago and I married an Aussie and since have had a happy life and been pretty well off.

It’s been so long now since I touched a horse. I forgot which end bites and which end kicks.”

Barry’s tips for the Melbourne Cup: Barry takes little notice of the horses when picking a Cup winner. He looks to the jockeys and chooses successful riders, taking particular notice if they’ve had success over similar distance to the Cup in question. Only then does he look to the horses they are riding for the big race. He says if a horse has no form and hasn’t won in the last 20 starts, the jockey would have to be a miracle rider to get it across the line in the lead, but if the horse has reasonable form too, you’re onto something!

Barry writes: The tale of the box brownie photo

It’s that time of year again and all the smart race people have the Saturday paper spread out on the nearest table reading the Race Section!

Yes, it’s Melbourne Cup Day and anyone with half a brain will know that the oldest, biggest, brown male will win! Or it may be the smallish red one that takes their eye? And of course, there’s that small person that sits on his or her back!

You only have to ask your barber. He knows exactly what will win, as he picked last year’s winner and it only took him about 24 choices. He’s the best to ask.

I spent most of my life around horses, was apprentice to a stable at 14 years old and had my first race nine months and 10 days later. I rode in 88 races in four years and managed to ride four winners. The old trainer only wanted the lightweight kids to ride their team track work. Yes, it was early mornings and only seven days a week. We had to be on the track by 4am and have the track work done by 9.30am. Then the rest of the team was worked on the roadside. After that it was a small lunch, mostly some piece of old mutton or some old chook. Didn’t see too many roast dinners!

A good horse could cover one furling, or 200 metres, in eight or nine seconds, so that was always saved for the last furlong. All the real slow ones either became jumpers or ended their last days waiting to become dog tucker. They passed by quite regularly.

Seventeen years passed by and I had had enough and although my weight remained light, I left and became…. Yes, a barber, giving winners out to the hopefuls!

I was often asked if I had ridden a Melbourne Cup winner. I always answered yes, as that was the truth. “Dalray” won the Cup in 1952 and I rode him in a track gallop on the 1st of January 1950 at one of the small country race meetings where his owner, Cyril “Apples” Neville lived and owned a produce store. He knew our family so Mum asked him could I have the glory of riding Dalray on that work out. He felt so strong and, although he only had to run down the straight, the power and speed he had, it made the tears run from my eyes. And poor old Mum had a box brownie photo of me coming down that track!

So, I DID ride a Melbourne Cup winner and he won that day the hearts of many.

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