Reg Fleming grew up in Brisbane listening to broadcasts of Roy Higgins riding two of his favourite horses.
Years later, after Higgins had retired from racing, Fleming became Melbourne foreman for legendary trainer Bart Cummings and also get to meet the jockey who had one of the most distinguished careers in Australian history.
Fleming, who still works for Cummings, was one of the many people at Flemington on Thursday as Higgins was farewelled at a public funeral service at the famous racetrack where he achieved so much.
“As a boy growing up in Brisbane I used to listen to Roy on two of my favourite horses in Gunsynd and Leilani,” Fleming said.
“Then I came here (to Melbourne) in 1983-84 and worked for Tommy Hughes and got to meet Roy.
“Then working for Bart I got to meet Roy a bit more.”
He recalled shaking his head in disbelief as he walked out of an on-course bar one day at Flemington having had a drink and a chat with Higgins.
“He was a great man. It used to blow me away, as a kid they were my idols and there I was running Bart’s stable and having a beer with Roy like he was a mate of mine. I walked out of there one day shaking my head.”
Higgins won two Melbourne Cups for Cummings in 1965 and 1967 and the pair were one of the most famous trainer-jockey combinations in Australian racing.
“Bart used to always say to me when a horse would get beat and someone had ridden it, he’d say `Higgins would do this or Higgins would do that’,” Fleming said.
“He (Higgins) was always one step ahead of the other jockeys.”