Roy Higgins has been remembered as an inspiration, an icon for Australian racing and a champion bloke.
Many of horse racing’s biggest names, past and present, turned out at Flemington racecourse on Thursday to farewell the champion jockey who died last weekend aged 75.
An inaugural member of the Australian Racing Hall of Fame, Higgins was described as a loving and kind-hearted man, generous with his time and support.
Jockey Damien Oliver said he was honoured when Higgins’ family asked him to speak at the service.
He said he would be eternally grateful to the man who took him under his wing and was an inspiration and sounding board for many.
“Some of the words I’d use to describe Roy would be humble, natural, generous, kind, thoughtful and caring. Most of all genuine,” Oliver said.
“These are the best qualities that a man can possess and Roy had them in bucket loads.”
Higgins won a record-equalling 11 Melbourne jockeys’ premierships.
One of only seven riders to have captured Australian racing’s Grand Slam, he won more than 2300 races during a stellar riding career.
“On behalf of all Australian jockeys, Roy has been an inspiration, an icon and a legend. His legacy will live on forever,” Oliver said.
In a final tribute, Higgins was taken on a last lap of the Flemington course where he had been so successful.
Melbourne Cup winners Subzero, Rogan Josh and Brew led the way down the famous straight as the hearse followed.
The handlers of Rogan Josh and Brew were dressed in the colours of Light Fingers and Red Handed, who gave Higgins his two Melbourne Cups in 1965 and 1967.
Jockeys and trainers formed a guard of honour as the man with a racing record most could only dream of emulating crossed the winning post one final time.