Over the last fifty years in particular, there have been many ways in which this has been measured.
Some scribes would argue it is the number of Group 1 wins, some would maintain it is the number of overall wins, while others would be adamant inclusion in the Australian Racing Hall of Fame is a ticket to legendary status.
But the one feat, the one achievement that rises above all others is the ability to win Australian racing’s grand slam.
This comprises of the Golden Slipper, a two year old scamper over 1200m around a hairpin bend at Rosehill; the Caulfield Cup, a lap and a bit of the notoriously difficult Caulfield track; the Melbourne Cup, the race that stops the nation, where luck is a jockey’s greatest asset; and of course, the Cox Plate, Australasia’s weight for age championship around the tight Moonee Valley circuit.
To win all four races requires versatility, as each race requires different skills, different abilities in order to emerge victorious.
For a jockey to win all four races demonstrates that he is a horseman of the finest order, a rider destined to go into the history books as one of the all time greats.
Kerrin McEvoy stands on that precipice.
At just 30 years of age, he is set to make a bid to become only the eighth jockey to complete Australian racing’s grand slam.
Already in this exclusive club are the likes of Neville Sellwood, Pat Hyland, Roy Higgins, Mick Dittman, Damien Oliver, Jim Cassidy and Chris Munce.
Standing in his McEvoy’s path is a mountainous task – he needs to win the Tatts Cox Plate, having already won the other three races of the Grand Slam.
He won the Melbourne Cup aboard Brew as a fresh faced twenty year old in 2000, while he rode All The Good to Caulfield Cup success for Godolphin in 2008.
He then took out the Golden Slipper aboard Sepoy earlier this year.
The head jockey for the massive Darley operation was heading out to a midweek meeting at Warwick Farm when the 2040Club spoke to him on Wednesday.
He confirmed that he is likely to ride in the Cox Plate this year, with a couple of options open to him.
“The hardest part of the Cox Plate is actually getting a ride,” McEvoy said.
“There aren’t that many horses who get a run, and in fact I’ve only had three rides.”
“I haven’t ridden in the race since 2003 when I rode Natural Blitz.”
Natural Blitz finished seventh to Fields of Omagh.
Arguably, McEvoy should already have a Cox Plate in his cabinet, having been aboard Viscount in 2001.
Viscount was squeezed near the line by both eventual winner Northerly and two time winner Sunline, and while a protest against both horses was dismissed, many punters believe he should have been declared the winner.
His other ride was in 2002, when he finished a well beaten seventh on sprinter Bel Esprit – now better known in the mainstream media as the sire of Black Caviar.
This year, the two most likely options for McEvoy are wayward three year old Helmet and the import Glass Harmonium.
Helmet is one of six three year olds still in contention for the Cox Plate, but the jockey conceded everything would need to go right for the Darley colt to line up on October 22.
“We haven’t really spoken about it but in reality, he needs to win the Caulfield Guineas to press on to the Cox Plate, so I’m hoping he can do that,” McEvoy said.
“He should run well this weekend [in the Caulfield Guineas Prelude] and I think he’ll be at his peak in the Guineas.”
However, if Helmet wasn’t to run, McEvoy is in line to receive a ride from his old friend Mike Moroney.
Moroney trained McEvoy’s Melbourne Cup winner Brew, and famously put the jockey on the gelding after a number of high profile jockeys rejected the opportunity to ride him.
This year, Moroney is likely to have the dashing grey import Glass Harmonium in the Cox Plate.
Glass Harmonium has impressed with his consistency since arriving in Australia.
Despite only one win from six starts, that being in the Eagle Farm Cup, he has run second three times – in the Hollindale Stakes, Brisbane Cup and Makybe Diva Stakes – third in the Doomben Cup and fourth in the Underwood Stakes.
“He has really put himself forward as a potential Cox Plate horse, so if the opportunity came up and Helmet wasn’t there, I’d ride him for sure,” McEvoy said.
The laidback jockey admitted the Cox Plate had been on his mind following his Golden Slipper success earlier this year.
“That night, I remember setting myself the goal of winning the Cox Plate, it’s definitely one of my main goals along with winning a Sydney jockeys premiership,” he said.
Outside of the Cox Plate, McEvoy said he was likely to ride one of Godolphin’s gallopers in the Melbourne Cup, having been approached by their racing manager Simon Crisford.
They have three horses – Cavalryman, Lost In The Moment and Modun – entered for the race that stops the nation on November 1.
He is also eagerly awaiting Sepoy’s clash with More Joyous in the Manikato Stakes at Moonee Valley next Friday night.
“He’s been working super, he’s going really well,” he said.
“I think he’s going to be better around a bend, and I’m quietly confident.”
Success may await him at Moonee Valley next Friday night, but all eyes will be on Kerrin McEvoy as he makes his attempt for join that most exclusive of groups – the jockeys who have won Australian racing’s grand slam.
Andrew Hawkins for the 2040Club