|Name:||Roy Higgins MBE (Late)|
|Occupation:||Champion Jockey & Racing Legend|
|Organisation:||Roy Higgins Wylie Dalziel Racing|
|Key Achievements:||Legendary jockey with over 2,300 winners; Won the Victorian Jockey Premiership 11 times; Winner of every major race, including the Melbourne Cup. A well-known racing media personality & racehorse syndicator.|
|Leading jockey and syndicators|
THE STORY BEHIND THE PROFESSOR AND THE CHEF
Roy “The Professor” Higgins was born at Koondrook, a small town on the Victorian side of the Murray River, on June 5, 1938 and passed away peacefully on March 8, 2014.
On August 22, 1953 Roy had his first ride on Cherry Girl at Deniliquin – it finished last.
Two months later on October 5, 1953 at the same track, Roy recorded his first win on statutory in the Diggers Handicap.
In the next five years Roy won almost 300 races in the Southern Districts of New South Wales and North East Victoria, claiming the leading apprentice title in both areas. Roy made his first mark on the Melbourne racing stage on April 5, 1958 riding a double – Triage and Gay Saxon at Flemington.
Shortly afterwards, Rollo Roylance, chief racing writer for the Sporting Globe dubbed Roy “The Professor” after the character in the musical “My Fair Lady.”
ROY RODE 2,312 WINNERS
There is no official record of how many winners Higgins rode, but Bert Lillye, chief racing writer for the Sydney Morning Herald whose records were renowned, says he rode 2,312 winners.
Roy won 69 weight for age races including the VRC Craiglee Stakes (5), VRC Lightning Stakes (3), AJC ALL Aged Stakes (2), VATC St George Stakes (4) and VRC MacKinnon Stakes (2).
He won a remarkable eight Futurity Stakes and seven VRC Sires Produce Stakes.
Of Australia’s major races, only the Stradbroke Handicap eluded him and he rode winners in South Africa, France, Hong Kong and Belgium. His last feature race winner was Lawman in the John F Feehan Stakes at Moonee Valley.
Higgins won the Victoria Jockey Premiership 11 times, a much disputed record he shares with Billy Duncan as his first premierships were counted from the days official records were kept.
Watch this wonderful tribute film from Bud Tingle:
ALWAYS A HEAVYWEIGHT
Possibly the most amazing thing about Roy Higgins is that he was always a heavyweight jockey.
From the time he came out of his apprenticeship until he retired in 1974, he rarely rode below eight stone, five lbs (53.5kg).
Roy was inducted into the Australian Sporting Hall of Fame in 1983, judged 60th of 200 all-time Australian sports persons. He was an inaugural inductee into The Australian Racing Hall of Fame in 2001.
He was rarely out of the news and played a leading role in the legendary match race between Big Philou and Rain Lover at Flemington over 2500m during the Autumn Carnival in 1970. It was an amazing event.
The story has it that only two horses had accepted for the race, leaving quite a dilemma for the Victoria Racing Club which almost had no choice but to cancel the race due to lack of acceptances.
Jack Elliott, racing editor of The Melbourne Herald, happened to be present when acceptances came through and it was he who convinced the VRC committee not to delete it but rather turn it into the match race of the decade.
With much lead-up publicity, two of the greatest horses and two great jockeys of the time, Higgins and Pat Hyland, battled it out.
At the end of the 2500m there was a short half head between them. This was one of racings great events.
Once retired from the racetrack, Higgins was involved with the racing media which included pre-race commentary and assessment of horses from the mounting yard and this is when he came in contact with a chef named Wylie Dalziel.
Dalziel was working for Chefs on the Run as their operations manager in a role that involved providing chefs to restaurants, pubs and clubs.
Always keen on the horses, Dalziel’s bosses supported his idea of forming Chefs on the Run racing syndicate.
Dalziel would dress in his chef’s outfit to meet the winner of a Chefs on the Run radio competition named “The Punting Chef” at the metropolitan races each Saturday.
After the third or fourth Saturday Roy asked Wylie what he was doing and he explained Chefs on the Run, his passion for racing and they later met to discuss future plans. Roy said he would do what he could to help but wasn’t interested in being involved in syndication.
CHANGE OF DIRECTION
Dalziel and Higgins headed to the 2002 Inglis Premier Yearling Sales and purchased six yearlings for the Chefs on the Run Syndicate, including Ra Sun which ran second in his first start in the Listed Platinum Stakes (1000m) and then won the Group 2 Maribyrnong Pate (1000m) at his next start.
But after nearly five years the Chefs on the Run bosses had a change of direction and decided not to continue with the syndicate.
Dalziel left the company and worked for Mark Read’s betting company as marketing executive but his job was made redundant when the firm was sold to Sportsbet.
While working for Read, Dalziel had the blessing of his boss to continue with managing a few horses and Roy Higgins-Wylie Dalziel Racing was established in 2009.
After Roy’s death, the syndicate became Wylie Dalziel – Roy Higgins Racing.
It is now Wylie Dalziel Racing.
Wylie will never forget his mate Roy Higgins for providing him with the opportunities of opening doors for him in the competitive world of racing and for his guidance, but just importantly for his genuine friendship.