Imagine a 15yo jockey riding a Melbourne Cup winner: it happened

Katherine resident reflects on her father's historic Melbourne Cup win


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RECORD: 15-year-old Ray Neville broke the track record with a race time of 3.21 minutes.

RECORD: 15-year-old Ray Neville broke the track record with a race time of 3.21 minutes.

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The 1948 race was memorable for many reasons.

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The youngest jockey to ever win the Melbourne Cup was just 15 years old. 

It was 1948 and it was the first time a photo finish was used in the race. 

Rimfire, an 80-1 outsider, beat Dark Marne, just. Without the photo evidence the race could have easily gone to the other rider or ended in a dead heat. 

Many punters still believe the result should have been reversed. 

As the 70th anniversary of the ‘race that stops the nation’ approaches, Katherine resident Christine Currie looks back on her father’s historic win. 

Ray Neville had placed second in the Caulfield Cup two weeks before the big race. 

Rimfire’s jockey was re-positioned to ride the race favorite instead, and the trainer, Stan Boyden, was out of options. 

Young Neville was picked to ride last minute. His previous win had not gone unnoticed, and he was small. It would have to do. 

REMEMBER: Christine Currie is heading to the 2018 Melbourne Cup to remeber her father Ray Neville who was the youngest jockey to win the big race.

REMEMBER: Christine Currie is heading to the 2018 Melbourne Cup to remeber her father Ray Neville who was the youngest jockey to win the big race.

“There is no way they would put someone so young and unexperienced like my dad on an expensive horse like that today,” Ms Currie said. 

“[Rimfire] was an 80 to one outsider. The jockeys thought it was a joke and the trainer was not placing any bets.

“He would tell us as kids that as he was coming round the last bend he just went for it. He thought he might just have a chance – he was as shocked as everybody else.” 

Mr Neville won 25 pounds, enough for a new suit and a saddle, which was later stolen, and was presented with a whip and a cup. 

That night he sat on a bench and had fish and chips for dinner – no grand celebration for the youngster in those days. 

“It will never ever happen again, my dad was the youngest on record and most likely always will be,” Ms Currie said. 

CAPTURE: A photograph captures Ray Neville as he dismounts Rimfire after winning the race.

CAPTURE: A photograph captures Ray Neville as he dismounts Rimfire after winning the race.

Mr Neville died suddenly in 2008, five weeks after his 60th birthday. 

His funeral in Stawell, Victoria, about 230 kilometres from Melbourne, was well attended. 

“He was very well known... Victorian Racing Club representatives attended,” Ms Currie, Ms Currie moved to Katherine in 2015,  said. 

“Dad was a very humble man. He never bragged about his win. As a child growing up we knew dad had won a cup but we had no idea about the significance.

“But people knew who he was.” 

Growing up in a struggling family in Victoria with 13 brothers and sisters, to then go on and achieve one of the greatest moments in Melbourne Cup racing history proves you can do anything, Ms Currie said. 

“It doesn’t matter who you are or what your background is you can achieve anything, my dad is proof of this,” she said. 

“He was told he was racing moments before the race began. He was young and nervous. He’d been in Melbourne for about six months. 

“It goes to show what you can do.” 

MEMORIES: Christine Currie kept her father's winning certificate.

MEMORIES: Christine Currie kept her father's winning certificate.

Mr Neville continued to ride until 1968 and worked in the racing world issuing barrier certificates well into his 50s. 

“He did what he loved his whole life,” Ms Currie said. 

The race holds much significance for Ms Currie and her family. They endevour to make the trip to the Melbourne Cup every year – and this year is no different. 

“It is a time we all get together to remember dad. The race is one day before his birthday.

“It is something special to be there and feel just a bit of what my dad might have felt on the day. 

“It is very nostalgic,” she said. 

Mr Neville raced in the Melbourne Cup once. Six-year-old Rimfire was owned by Guy Raymond. 

Katherine Times

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