Racing: Scobie Breasley, Australia's riding 'genius' dies at 92

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The Independent Online

Scobie Breasley, the Bradman of the Turf, died yesterday aged 92. The outback boy became the dominant jockey in Australia before conquering Europe - winning the Derby on Santa Claus in 1964 and Charlottown two years later, and the 1958 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe on Ballymoss.

Born in Wagga Wagga in 1914, Breasley rode the first of 3,251 winners at 14. The next year he had his first Melbourne Cup mount, but the great race would remain a painful omission on his CV. Instead his signature became the Caulfield Cup, in which his record of five wins - four consecutively between 1942 and 1945 - still stands. After winning it again in 1952, he emigrated to Britain where his subtle riding would secure four championships and over 2,000 races.

After 1968 he followed an international training career from Britain to France, the United States and Barbados, before retiring back to Melbourne in 1993. There he remained revered as a doyen of Australian sport.

Ron Hutchinson, the jockey who followed him to Britain in 1960, described him as "a thorough gentleman and one of the kindest, gentlest people you could meet". They had shared the last of many convivial times only last week. "He was as bright as a button," Hutchinson said. "He had a wonderful life and no regrets."

One of his big British winners was Be Friendly, owned by Sir Peter O'Sullevan. "He was one of the all-time greats," the former commentator said. "He had the most horrific fall at Alexandra Park in 1954. The medical opinion was that he would never walk unaided again. The very thought of riding was impossible, but it was an example of his resolution and courage. He was over 50 when he rode Santa Claus."

Michael Jarvis, the Newmarket trainer, led up Charlottown in the Derby and remembered Breasley as "a genius - certainly in the top two jockeys I have ever seen, behind Lester Piggott".

Breasley once said: "Of all my rivals, in Australia or England, Lester was the hardest man to beat." On the day Piggott was born, Breasley rode in the Melbourne Cup in the afternoon and married Mae Weston in the evening. That was 1935, and they were parted only by Mae's death three years ago. She once recalled him training the winner of a big race in Barbados. Asked if he had backed the horse, she replied: "Oh no, Scobie hasn't had a bet since he stopped riding."