When it comes to living legends of horse racing in Australia and New Zealand, they don’t come much bigger and better than Jim ‘Pumper’ Cassidy. The 53 year old retired at the end of the 2015 Melbourne Cup Carnival and will make his first appearance on a race track since retiring this Saturday at Tuncurry for Tuncurry Cup Day.
The New Zealander will be a special guest on behalf of the jockey club and the major sponsor for the race day, the Tuncurry Bowling Club. Cassidy says it will be an absolute pleasure to be track side for the clubs biggest day of racing.
“This will be the first time I have stepped out on a track since retiring,” He said.
“I am very excited to come here on behalf of the club and it promises to be a great day. I played a round of golf this afternoon and yeah, I am loving it. Life away from the saddle is suiting me perfectly.”
Pumper’s career spanned three decades, and it was a career that any jockey would envy. It was filled with many highlights, but Cassidy says it was his 100th Group l win on Zoustar in the 2013 Coolmore Stud (1200m) that tops the list.
“To get that win and join two absolute legends in George Moore and Roy Higgins…that will stay with me forever,” Pumper told Justhorseracing.
“The career of Might And Power was also fantastic, but that magic 100 number on Zoustar was as good as it gets.”
His career ended with a seventh placing on Distant Rock on Oaks Day at Flemington. He had been away from racing ever since, but Cassidy says it was a phone call from a good mate that convinced him the time was right.
“Dasher (Dale Spriggs) gave me a call shortly after I retired,” He said.
“He asked me if I could come his way and I didn’t need asking twice.”
The Grand Slam winning rider knows full well his popularity is very high in the racing industry and wants to give back to the industry that has set he and his family up for life…and he is only too happy to do such that.
“Retirement for me is all about mingling with people on the other side of the fence,” Cassidy told Justhorseracing.
“I never got to experience that as a jockey, so that is something I am looking forward to on Saturday; giving back to the community and putting a smile on peoples faces.”
And as for the Tuncurry track itself?
“I had a look at it today and mate it is an outstanding track in regards to the layout, circumference and the footing underneath,” The 53 year old said.
“I am very impressed by what I have seen.”
So how does Jim Cassidy the jockey like to be remembered?
“I’d like to be remembered as a jockey who put his balls on the line every time he was in the saddle.”
“I took risks; That’s the way to do it, and it worked for me. I am very proud of what I achieved and am very much enjoying the next phase of my life.”