Melbourne jockeys have paid tribute to champion rider Roy Higgins at the Moonee Valley races on Monday.
The riders competing at the public holiday meeting gathered in the home straight in front of the big screen as images of Higgins, who died on Saturday aged 75, were shown during a minute’s silence.
Higgins won 11 Melbourne premierships and more than 2000 races during his career, including 108 Group Ones and two Melbourne Cups.
He is one of only seven riders to have won all four majors in Australian racing – the Melbourne Cup, Cox Plate, Caulfield Cup and Golden Slipper.
The Australian flag at Moonee Valley flew at half mast.
Cox Plate winning-jockey Steven Arnold marvelled at the record of the Hall of Fame rider.
“He was a bit before my time but obviously a legend,” Arnold said.
“When I was growing up he was the best jockey and I think he’s still known as that in a lot of circles.”
Arnold said the magnitude of Higgins’ achievements had only really hit him in recent days.
“I probably hadn’t read his record until his passing as detailed as I have now, and his record speaks for itself,” Arnold said.
“It’s an unbelievable record for someone that didn’t ride the lightest weights.”
Vlad Duric said Higgins was always a lovely person to talk to and that racing had lost a legend.
“I never saw him ride but I know of his record and he was always a lovely person for me to talk to and I’ve always got fond memories of him as a human being,” Duric said.
“Obviously he was a superstar and it’s always sad to let a legend go.”
Trainer Leon Corstens, a long-time foreman to Bart Cummings for whom Higgins won two Melbourne Cups, was another at Moonee Valley to pay tribute to Higgins.
“What can I say that hasn’t been said already?” Corstens said.
“I think I first met Roy in about 1960 and we’ve been friends ever since. Haven’t regretted one moment. He was a lovely bloke.
“He was a champion. An absolute champion.”
Higgins will be farewelled on Thursday with a public funeral at Flemington Racecourse, the scene of his two Melbourne Cup wins and numerous other features.
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