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.