Melbourne Cup 2017: Meet the jockeys


From multiple winners to Cup first-timers, here is a look at the jockeys who will be in the hot seat for this year’s Melbourne Cup.

1. Hartnell: Damian Lane

Jockey Damian Lane
  • Age: 23
  • Born: Australia
  • Based: Melbourne
  • Cup rides: 2
  • Best result: 7th Beautiful Romance (2016)

Born in Western Australia, Lane has continued on a meteoric rise through the jockey ranks.

He chose to take up a three-month riding stint in Hong Kong in 2015 and forgo a chance at winning a premiership at home in order to better develop his career.

Lane is used on a regular basis by some of Melbourne’s leading stables and has won Group Ones including the ATC Australian Derby (Jon Snow) and Australian Cup (Humidor).

He landed a winner on Derby Day and has taken the ride on Godolphin’s Hartnell after losing the mount on Humidor following the Caulfield Cup.

2. Almandin: Frankie Dettori

  • Age: 46
  • Born: Italy
  • Based: UK
  • Cup rides: 15
  • Best result: 2nd Central Park (1999), Max Dynamite (2015)

The flamboyant Italian is one of racing’s all-time greats, a winner of more than 500 Group races, with many made memorable by his famous star-jump dismounts in the winner’s circle.

But the Melbourne Cup has been one race that has managed to elude him.

Dettori has partnered many of the champions of world racing in the past two decades thanks in large part to his role as top rider for Godolphin.

His association with the racing empire ended in 2012 but the success has not — he’s been in slashing form this year, highlighted by his partnership with star filly Enable.

3. Humidor: Blake Shinn

Shinn brings Appearance home
  • Age: 30
  • Born: Australia
  • Based: Sydney
  • Cup rides: 8
  • Best result: 1st Viewed (2008)

Shinn has experienced some trials and tribulations during his career but he now sits among the top echelon of jockeys in Australia.

He won the Melbourne Cup as a 21-year-old in 2008, however two years later his life was in tatters after being banned for 15 months over a betting scandal, with a gambling addiction exposed.

But Shinn has worked to rebuild his career and his resurgence can be attributed in large part to the support of the late trainer Guy Walter, whom he shared success with top mares such as Streama and Appearance.

He’s now in high demand wherever he goes and is in hot form, with four vicitories on Cox Plate Day as well as a win in the Wakeful Stakes on Derby Day on Saturday.

4. Tiberian: Olivier Peslier

  • Age: 44
  • Born: France
  • Based: France
  • First Cup ride

Peslier is one of the world’s great jockeys, yet strangely this will be the first time he’s ridden in a Melbourne Cup.

The Frenchman has won many great races around the world including the English Derby and Japan Cup, as well as four victories in the prestigious Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe.

He’s also partnered champions of the turf including Peintre Celebre and Goldikova.

Peslier has developed a good affinity with his Cup mount Tiberian and they’ve combined for four wins from five starts this year.

5. Marmelo: Hugh Bowman

Bowman celebrates Derby win
  • Age: 37
  • Born: Australia
  • Based: Sydney
  • Cup rides: 6
  • Best result: 5th Who Shot Thebarman (2016)

The boy who grew up herding cattle at Dunedoo in New South Wales comes into the Cup leading the standings for the title of world’s best jockey in 2017.

Bowman has been forced to battle weight issues during his career but over time has built an enviable record of big-race success which he attributes to his natural skills as a horseman.

His association with champion trainer Chris Waller has taken Bowman to new heights, most notably their combination with triple Cox Plate-winning superstar Winx.

Four times Sydney’s premier jockey and now with more than 70 Group One victories, Bowman has had limited opportunities in the Melbourne Cup and rides one of the leading hopes Marmelo.

6. Red Cardinal: Kerrin McEvoy

Jockey Kerrin McEvoy
  • Age: 37
  • Born: Australia
  • Based: Sydney
  • Cup rides: 14
  • Best result: 1st Brew (2000), Almandin (2016)

By the age of 20, Kerrin McEvoy had achieved every jockey’s dream when he rode Brew to victory in the 2000 Melbourne Cup.

His talents were recognised by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, owner of the global Godolphin racing operation, and was retained as the number two rider behind Frankie Dettori for five years.

He returned to Australia and was the Sheikh’s lead rider here with successes including the Caulfield Guineas and Golden Slipper before leaving in 2014.

And since then McEvoy has continued to accumulate big race victories, including the $10 million Everest sprint in Sydney earlier this spring.

7. Johannes Vermeer: Ben Melham

Jockey Ben Melham
  • Age: 29
  • Born: Australia
  • Based: Melbourne
  • Cup rides: 3
  • Best result: 10th Our Ivanhowe (2015)

Melham is fulfilling the promise he showed as a young apprentice and now rides consistently for many of Victoria’s top stables.

He is also one of only three jockeys who can claim to have won a race aboard the champ Black Caviar.

Melham has tasted Group One success on 13 occasions, highlighted by his win in this year’s Golden Slipper aboard star filly She Will Reign.

His fourth Melbourne Cup appearance will be aboard the Ireland-trained Johannes Vermeer who he rode into third in the Caulfield Cup a fortnight ago.

8. Bondi Beach: Michael Walker

Jockey Michael Walker
  • Age: 33
  • Born: New Zealand
  • Based: Melbourne
  • Cup rides: 3
  • Best result: 3rd Criterion (2015)

New Zealand-born Walker burst onto the scene as a star apprentice while in his teens and rode more than 650 winners to smash all records.

But a move to Australia, heavy drinking and drug use left his career at a crossroads. Then a near-fatal accident while pig hunting back home changed everything.

With a second chance at life Walker has turned things around and is back to his best, getting support from many of Victoria’s top stables.

Walker sprung a massive shock when he claimed the Caulfield Guineas last month aboard 100-1 shot Mighty Boss, and he’s looking to cause another upset with Bondi Beach in the Cup.

9. Max Dynamite: Zac Purton

  • Age: 34
  • Born: Australia
  • Based: Hong Kong
  • Cup rides: 3
  • Best result: 12th Munsef (2009)

Purton shone from early in his apprenticeship in Brisbane and it was not long before he headed to Sydney in search of greater glory.

He matched it at the elite level in the Harbour City before gaining a lucrative riding contract against the world’s best in Hong Kong in 2007.

Purton developed into a world-class jockey and won the Hong Kong premiership in the 2013-14 season, breaking the 13-year reign of South African ace Douglas Whyte.

He makes regular trips back to Australia for the major carnivals and notched his biggest success aboard Japanese runner Admire Rakti in the 2014 Caulfield Cup.

10. Ventura Storm: Glen Boss

  • Age: 48
  • Born: Australia
  • Based: Singapore
  • Cup rides: 14
  • Best result: 1st Makybe Diva (2003, 2004, 2005)

“Group One” Glen has been one of Australia’s best big race jockeys for over a decade and famously partnered Makybe Diva to win three successive Cups.

Boss has more than 1,800 career victories and over 80 at Group One level, including the Golden Slipper (2) and Cox Plate (3).

He’s always a crowd favourite and remembers to put on a show returning to scale if he’s managed to ride a major winner.

Recently Boss has been plying his trade in Singapore but returns to ride the former European galloper Ventura Storm in the Cup.

Who Shot Thebarman: Tommy Berry

  • Age: 26
  • Born: Australia
  • Based: Hong Kong
  • Cup rides: 4
  • Best result: 4th Trip To Paris (2015)

UPDATE: Who Shot Thebarman has been scratched.

Berry emerged on the scene with his twin brother Nathan during their apprenticeships, with Tommy regularly riding winners for Gai Waterhouse.

He can already count victories in the Golden Slipper and Doncaster Mile on his resume and he revelled in each victory with his brother.

Tragically Nathan died due to illness in the autumn of 2014 and Berry still salutes the heavens to honour his brother following each big victory.

Berry is currently riding in Hong Kong but was more than happy to take the ride on Who Shot Thebarman in the Cup.

12. Wicklow Brave: Stephen Baster

  • Age: 42
  • Born: Australia
  • Based: Melbourne
  • Cup rides: 8
  • Best result: 3rd Mahler (2007)

Baster, whose biggest wins have included the time-honoured Newmarket Handicap, has been a safe pair of hands for many trainers in Melbourne down the years.

He finished third in the Cup aboard the Aidan O’Brien-trained Mahler in 2007, and it had been a long time between Cup rides until he got aboard Secret Number (21st) last year.

He’s an avid triathlete and this ability to keep his weight in check helps him take rides at all ends of the weight spectrum.

If Wicklow Brave salutes from barrier 8 it will be hard to imagine removing the expression from the “smiling jockey’s” face.

13. Big Duke: Brenton Avdulla

  • Age: 26
  • Born: Melbourne
  • Based: Sydney
  • Cup rides: 1
  • Best result: 15th Mourayan (2013)

Born and bred in Melbourne, Avdulla is the son of a bookmaker but never really considered that as a career path.

He decided to become a jockey and took full advantage of an opportunity early on to work with Gai Waterhouse — and now he’s approaching 900 winners overall.

Avdulla is consistently one of the top riders in Sydney and pushed Hugh Bowman all the way but just fell short of claiming the jockeys’ premiership last season.

He’ll be aboard Big Duke in the Cup at Flemington, where last year he rode a daring race aboard 100-1 shot Lasqueti Spirit to win the Victoria Oaks.

14. US Army Ranger: Jamie Spencer

  • Age: 37
  • Born: Ireland
  • Based: UK
  • Cup rides: 3
  • Best result: 5th Big Orange (2015)

Spencer has been champion jockey in both Ireland and the United Kingdom and was at one time the stable rider for Aidan O’Brien at Ballydoyle.

He is no stranger to success at Flemington having ridden Side Glance to victory in the 2013 Mackinnon Stakes.

In 2014 he announced plans to hang up the saddle but later that year he had second thoughts.

Spencer is returning for his fourth ride in the Cup and is partnering the enigmatic US Army Ranger for the first time.

15. Boom Time: Cory Parish

  • Age: 28
  • Born: New Zealand
  • Based: Melbourne
  • First Cup ride

A winner of more than 170 races, Parish struggled to make ends meet in his native New Zealand before moving with his young family to see if he could crack it in Australia.

He’s continued to work hard and gets plenty of support from the David Hayes stable.

And it was for the Lindsay Park operation just a fortnight ago that he claimed his greatest triumph in the Caulfield Cup on the outsider Boom Time, which he teams up with again on Tuesday.

It will be the first time Parish will ride at Flemington on Cup Day, let alone in the Cup itself.

16. Gallante: Michael Dee

  • Age: 21
  • Born: New Zealand
  • Based: Melbourne
  • First Cup ride

Dee made the move from New Zealand in 2015 and joined up with the successful Melbourne stable of Mick Price.

He quickly drew praise from several trainers in Victoria and has amassed more than 200 career winners.

The 21-year-old is riding Gallante in the Cup on Tuesday for owner Lloyd Williams, for whom he rode Foundry to his first Group One success in Sydney last month.

Dee backed up that triumph with another Group One at Flemington’s Derby Day meeting on Saturday.

17. Libran: Dwayne Dunn

Divine Prophet returns after winning the Caulfield Guineas
  • Age: 44
  • Born: Australia
  • Based: Melbourne
  • Cup rides: 11
  • Best result: 7th Skybeau (1997), Araldo (2014)

Trainers describe Dunn as a professional, high-class jockey who doesn’t make mistakes.

He has ridden in every Australian state as well as overseas and is regularly entrusted with important rides from top stables including the Hawkes and Hayes yards.

Dunn has ridden almost 2,000 career winners and claimed the 2015-16 Scobie Breasley Medal, the highest honour for jockeys in Victoria.

He takes the ride on former European galloper Libran on Tuesday for trainer Chris Waller who now only has one runner after the scratching of Who Shot Thebarman.

18. Nakeeta: Glyn Schofield

  • Age: 50
  • Born: South Africa
  • Based: Sydney
  • Cup rides: 4
  • Best result: 3rd Mourilyan (2009)

The South African-born Schofield has tasted success around the world, and decided to settle in Australia with his family in 2008.

But he’ll be flying the flag for Scotland in the Cup on Tuesday when he takes the ride on Nakeeta.

Over the years Schofield has ridden great horses including multiple Group One winners Hay List and Boban, and scored a famous victory aboard Prized Icon in the Victoria Derby last year for trainer James Cummings.

His son, Chad, is also a top jockey plying his trade in the lucrative Hong Kong market.

19. Single Gaze: Kathy O’Hara

  • Age: 31
  • Born: Singleton, NSW
  • Based: Sydney
  • First Cup ride

O’Hara is set to become only the sixth woman to ride in a Melbourne Cup and will be out to emulate the feats of Michelle Payne aboard Prince Of Penzance in 2015.

The winner of almost 800 races has been seeking the counsel of two-time Cup-winning jockey Jim Cassidy about how to approach the ride at Flemington on Tuesday.

She will partner Single Gaze in the Cup, a mare who she has been aboard for 23 of the horse’s 27 starts.

O’Hara will be hoping her affinity with the horse will help them go better than their second placing in the Caulfield Cup a fortnight ago.

20. Wall Of Fire: Craig Williams

Williams celebrates victory on Pinker Pinker
  • Age: 40
  • Born: Australia
  • Based: Melbourne
  • Cup rides: 13
  • Best result: 3rd Mount Athos (2013)

The key moment in Williams’ career came in 2000 when he decided to move overseas and join leading UK trainer Mick Channon, which helped tune his riding skills and become a more complete jockey.

While riding in Hong Kong he teamed with David Hayes and then when they both returned to Australia in 2005, the combination carried on to claim 14 Group Ones until Williams decided to freelance in 2009.

Suspension cost him the Melbourne Cup-winning ride on Dunaden in 2011 as well as the record for the first jockey to win all three spring “majors” in a calendar year.

Williams has never lost his desire to ride overseas and regularly takes up riding contracts in Japan and he is one of Australian racing’s great ambassadors.

21. Thomas Hobson: Joao Moreira

  • Age: 33
  • Born: Brazil
  • Based: Hong Kong
  • Cup rides: 3
  • Best result: 2nd Heartbreak City (2016)

Moreira began his career in his native Brazil before taking all before him in Singapore where he earned the nickname “Magic Man”.

He rode eight winners from eight rides at a meeting in Singapore in September 2013 and soon after made the move to Hong Kong.

Moreira has continued to break records in Hong Kong, where linking with champions such as Able Friend helped him become the fastest jockey to reach 100 wins there.

He has also made a habit of making winning raids to Australia in recent seasons and came within a whisker of claiming the Cup aboard Heartbreak City last year.

22. Rekindling: Corey Brown

  • Age: 41
  • Born: Taree, NSW
  • Based: Sydney
  • Cup rides: 13
  • Best result: 1st Shocking (2009)

A winner of more than 2,000 races, Brown returned to Australia early in 2017 after a four-year stint riding overseas.

He’s wasted no time getting back into the swing of things and has already claimed Group Ones including the Sydney Cup and Stradbroke Handicap.

In the Cup Brown had finished second (2002, 2008) and third (1999) before making amends in 2009 when Shocking won for trainer Mark Kavanagh. Brown finished third again in 2011.

It’s been a long time since Brown has ridden for owner Lloyd Williams but he eagerly pursued the ride on the promising stayer Rekindling.

23. Amelie’s Star: Dean Yendall

  • Age: 43
  • Born: Melbourne
  • Based: Horsham, Victoria
  • Cup rides: 2
  • Best result: 8th Niwot (2011)

A natural lightweight rider, this “lovable larrikin” is among the most prolific jockeys in the country having ridden more than 2,150 winners in a long career.

He’s in the saddle pretty much every day of the week and frequently racks up tens of thousands of kilometres each year making it to race meetings across Victoria.

It took more than 30 years before he claimed his first Group One race in the Spring Champion Stakes last year, but more have flowed since then, including the Myer Classic on Derby Day at Flemington on Saturday.

Yendall partners with Amelie’s Star on Tuesday as trainer Darren Weir looks to win a second Melbourne Cup after Prince Of Penzance in 2015.

24. Cismontane: Beau Mertens

  • Age: 20
  • Based: Melbourne
  • First Cup ride

Mertens, a son of former top jockey Peter, is a star apprentice who almost claimed the overall Melbourne jockey’s premiership last season.

While the 20-year-old did his apprenticeship with Mick Kent, Mertens is entrusted to ride horses many other leading stables including those of David Hayes, Darren Weir and Mick Price.

His biggest win to date has been in the Group Two Stutt Stakes and Caulfield Sprint this spring but bigger things await for this promising young talent.

Mertens finished eighth in his first Caulfield Cup ride a fortnight ago, and will be hoping Cismontane can run a bold race on Tuesday.