Legendary expat-Kiwi jockey Brent Thomson, affectionately known as The Babe, has been inducted into the Australian Racing Hall of Fame.
Already a Hall of Famer in his homeland, Thomson began his riding career in Whanganui in 1973 as a 15-year-old.
The son of trainer Kevin Thomson, he was a natural in the saddle and went on to early success in New Zealand before winning the first of four Gr.1 Cox Plates (2040m) at the tender age of 17-years-old when guiding home New Zealand horse Fury's Order to victory in 1973.
Thomson then went on to win three successive Cox Plates from 1977 aboard Family of Man, So Called, and Dulcify, a horse Thomson would label as the best he has ridden.
"The way that Dulcify won that Cox Plate was fantastic, and the call of Bill Collins was amazing, he was an exciting caller. It was my fourth (win in the race) and I thought he could win it, but not quite the way he did. It will always go down as one of those great Cox Plates because of Collins' call. If I was to put one race (as a highlight of my career), he's the pinnacle."
Midway through his Cox Plate run, Thomson was lured over the Tasman by legendary trainer Colin Hayes and he immediately rewarded Hayes' faith with two successive wins in the Cox Plate.
The partnership continued to flourish and Thomson went on to win three Victorian jockey premierships, becoming the first non-Victorian to claim the title.
Thomson was then lured to the United Kingdom as a 24-year-old by Robert Sangster, and as with Hayes, he immediately rewarded Sangster's faith in him.
"Having Robert Sangster as my sponsor was a massive help," he said. "My first success was at Royal Ascot on Committed in what was the Cork and Orrery Stakes, now known as the Queen's Jubilee (Gr.1, 1200m). All those things were massive door openers (in the United Kingdom)."
Thomson went on to win the Gr.1 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (1600m) aboard Sure Blade and highlighted his ride aboard Gildoran when winning the Gr.1 Ascot Gold Cup (4000m) as one of his best.
The pair led for the majority of the extreme distance to give Gildoran back-to-back wins in the race.
"He was an interesting horse because he was a really big heavy horse, but he virtually needed the ground to be rock hard, which is quite unusual for English stayers," he said.
"I always rated it as one of my great rides because it's a long way to be in front. It's like leading in a Melbourne Cup-plus."
Thomson subsequently returned to Australia in 1987 where he once again experienced immediate success.
"I came back to Australia, got off the plane and won a Gr.1 Caulfield Guineas (1600m) on Marwong and I won the Caulfield Cup (Gr.1, 2400m) on Lord Reims."
Thomson said he found it hard to settle in Australia and elected to move to Asia and found Hong Kong to be an exciting place to ride.
"The most exciting place that I have ridden is undoubtedly Hong Kong."
In all, Thomson plied his trade in 24 countries, recording more than 2500 wins, 54 of those at Group One level.
- NZ Racing Desk