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Newcastle City Farmers Market
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Wayne Harris Wins tHe Melbourne Cup: noveMber, 1994
When Muswellbrook jockey Wayne Harris climbed on board Jeune for the 1994
Melbourne Cup, none of the portents seemed favourable.
Harris was making a comeback after being out through injury and illness, and
only clinched the ride at the barrier draw following the fnal race on Derby Day,
after trainer David Hayes had offered the ride to several other prominent jockeys,
including Shane Dye, who had made it clear that Jeune would not run out the
gruelling 3200 metres. When the heavens opened before the race it was thought to
be the fnal nail in Jeune’s coffn, as he was supposedly a duffer in the wet.
But Harris was used to overcoming obstacles. His career began in a blaze of
glory - in 1979 he won the Golden Slipper on Century Miss at just age 18, the frst
apprentice to win Sydney’s blue ribbon race, and he notched an Australian record
number of wins as an apprentice - but at 22 he was diagnosed with a brain tumour
and, after surgery, was told it was unlikely he would ride again.
But comeback he did, only to be struck down by another tumour which he again
beat. Add to that a list of injuries and Harris spent almost as much time in hospital
beds as on horses.
But on November 1, 1994, he teamed with the chestnut stallion Jeune to achieve
every jockey’s ambition. He won the Melbourne Cup.
In 2006, Harris told the Illawarra Mercury how it all came about.
“Throughout the week I had driven Hayes mad for a ride and Jeune was the only
one that had my weight, so it was a godsend to hear David tell the media I would be
“In the two days before the cup I studied the form and speed maps. I even
memorised all the colours and silks of rival jockeys.
“My weight preparation was pretty standard – starving, sweating and hours of
walking. I must have worn a track walking around Flemington. I was obsessed.
“Everything on cup day appeared to be going too smoothly; even my tie was done
perfect at frst attempt and the trip to the track, normally a nightmare, went off
without a hitch.
“Jeune was a very headstrong horse and although I’d never ridden him before I
knew that while racing in Europe he was taught to miss the start to help the jockeys
hold him, a habit that isn’t encouraged here.
“Hayes’s instructions were to just try and settle Jeune the best I could. It’s
impossible to win a 3200-metre race if you over-race or are made to cover extra
ground. My intention was to try and relax Jeune mid-feld and ride the race as it
“But Jeune was slow into stride and I had to make a decision to back myself and
push forward a little to hold a spot. The frst few hundred metres are important, as
there is a fair bit of jostling until positions are sorted. I remember it was very tight
and I was onto the heels of the runners in front of me. But I couldn’t afford to give up
my prime position.
“Luckily the pace was reasonable and I had been able to follow top jockeys Darren
Beadman and Jim Cassidy, although I had to dodge a Pommie horse that wasn’t
coping at the 1200 metres. Other than Jeune racing a little keenly, everything was
“The feld bunched coming to the home turn, the weaker runners were starting to
get a stitch and it was then that a gap appeared in front of me. I had to make a quick
decision - try for the run or get caught up with the backmarkers who were starting
to converge. I squeezed through the narrow gap and suddenly there I was with only
one horse in front of me.
“My heart skipped a beat. It was too far from home to be hitting the front!
“So much was going through my mind. Right, I’ve saved ground and nursed him,
surely he’ll fnd something for me when I ask for an effort.
“You’re always told, ‘don’t go until the clock tower’, which is around 250 metres
from the fnish. I could feel the feld around me and from the corner of my eye I could
see plenty of challengers emerging. I needed to keep my cool and wait. To Jeune’s
credit, when I fnally urged him to go he simply exploded.
“I crouched down and tried to help him without being punishing and as we got to
the line we had a length to spare. Unbelievable. We’d won the bloody Melbourne Cup!
“As I pulled up, one of the frst to greet me was my good mate Damien Oliver,
who had fnished second on the favourite Paris Lane. Damien almost got me in a
headlock and I copped a few choice expletives, but he was genuinely excited for me.
“I remember saying to him, tongue in cheek: ‘Mate, you watched the perfect ride,
just copy it next year.’ And he did, winning it on Doriemus.”
89. The perfect
Wayne Harris after winning the 1994 Melbourne Cup on Jeune.
“The feld bunched coming
to the home turn, the weaker
runners were starting to get
astitch. . .”
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