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Memories of the great riders who have ridden in Sri Lanka

The list of international jockeys who have ridden in Ceylon and India is extensive. It is important that these jockeys are recorded in the history of our racing and we must also acknowledge our homebred riders. After reading this post I would be interested in your opinions of riders you have seen over the years.

During my lockdown period in Australia I came across an article that mentioned several Australians who rode in Sri Lanka. These jockeys were some of Australia’s earliest international travellers.

Norman Wood rode in Ceylon during the 1920’s. A newspaper article talks of a hat trick in Ceylon in 1924.  Norman was then involved with the Victorian Hunt Club, Victorian and Moonee Valley Polo Clubs, as well as being an official starter for Metropolitan Racing Clubs.

It was reported that Ted Fordyce (aka The Railwayman), when he rode in Ceylon was the equivalent to what Joao Moreira is today in Hong Kong Reg  Cook (Billy Cook’s brother) who was a successful trainer in Sydney Australia upon retiring after riding in Ceylon.

Riders such as Teddy Doon,  Jimmy Foley,  Jimmy  Hickey, Jack Parsons, John Rincheval,  Alfie Smith, Frank Smith, Teddy Swinton, Henry Young, Piers Burgess, and Albert Wood all rode when Sri Lanka had three racecourse.

The following extracts are from an article in the Argus, a Melbourne sporting paper on Saturday, 21st May, 1949 from a Colombo correspondent.

“Australian jockeys and trainers are playing their part in horse racing on Ceylon’s three principal courses. Fourteen Australian jockeys and four Australian trainers are under contract to Ceylonese owners, who pay them regular retainers and bonuses. Of the Australians one of the best known is Lionel Davison, of Sydney, who has been a champion jockey here on and off for 20 years. He rode for a time in India with Edgar Britt, now a leading rider in England.”

“This years most consistent winner has been E Fordyce, also of Sydney. He chalked up 12 winners and 14 placing in seven meetings.”

“Also high on the list are J Parsons, of Sydney, who had three winners at his first race meeting in Ceylon, and J Raffaele of Melbourne.”

“Of the trainers Freddie Marrs and G Burgess of Melbourne have turned out consistently good candicates.”

“One of its Stipendiary Stewards is a New Zealander Mr H B Olney. The starter Mr R RMorrison, also a New Zealander.”

“Races, which are on English Jockey Club rules, draw an average crowd of 30,000 a day. Betting is on the tote only, A days takings are anything from 1,000,000 rupees to 1,500,000 rupees.” That was in 1949, what would that be worth in today value.

Horses were also imported from Australia as the article states, “Of the Australian horses, this years best money maker has been a bay colt Waitemata, which as a two-year-old beat, dark Marne on the Canterbury course in Sydney.”

Wayne J Wood

Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of Stipendiary Stewards

What are your memories of champions of the saddle in Sri Lanka?

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