Jockey to Minister to Jockey, he rode full circle and always at the front. Winning races was the norm rather than an exception. With God on his shoulder and a winner under him, what could possibly go wrong with Darren Beadman ?
Born 1965, Darren Beadman began his riding career by winning the apprentice jockeys’ title in 1982-83 on his first outing and went on to win it again in 1984-85. With Golden Slipper he had his first Group 1 win in the same season, again winning it in 1997 but with Guineas this time.
Beadman went on to win the Melbourne Cup with Kingston Rule in 1990 and in 1996 he got a double: the Cox Plate and the Melbourne Cup, adding immensely to his fame. 1996 was also a landmark year for him as he won the Sydney Jockeys’ Premiership. In 1991 he won the Doncaster-Epsom Handicap double.
He rode a record 186 winner on all tracks during the 1994-95 season, winning the Sydney jockeys’ Premiership. His record of wins is awesome and inspirational. Perhaps he is unique in having won 46 Group 1 races.
One would think Beadman would go straight on, win more championships and retire as a horse breeder and trainer but it seems destiny had other things in store for him.
While racing in Hong Kong he was disqualified and was out of racing for nine months. Beadman returned to Sydney and spent time contemplating his life and future moves.
He surprised everyone by deciding to become a full time minister, committed to faith and to service of God. Some say his daughter, who was born deaf, may have inspired him to make this move in 1997. He became a full-time member of a Pentecostal Christian Church, known as the Hillsong Church in Waterloo.
Some would say, well, that is that but then Darren Beadman sprung yet another surprise on the racing world: he returned in 2002-2003 and won the Sydney Jockey Premiership that year and again in 2003-2004. A resurgent and triumphant Darren Beadman went on to record a stupendous 143 wins in 2004-2005 and a mammoth total of 152 wins in the 2005-2006 season. He tallied 33 Group 1 wins to his total. Lonhro was the champion horse partnering him in his wins.
2008 was not such a good year for Darren Beadman. A fall in a Hong Kong race kept him out of the Cox Plate and the Melbourne Cup.
The injury to his tailbone took some time to heal. Today, he does race occasionally in Hong Kong where he currently lives, but has forever etched his name as an undisputed king of jockeys of Australia.
In February 2012 Darren Beadman suffered a serious career ending head injury at Sha Tin Racecourse when a horse broke both its legs underneath him in a barrier trial. He suffered a diffuse axonal brain injury and a broken cheekbone from the accident. He underwent rehabilitation for his injuries in Hong Kong and Sydney.
His name features prominently in the Australian Horse Racing Hall of Fame, where he was inducted in the year 2007.
Darren Beadman loved predawn and considers it the best time of the day to get together with his favourite horse and develop an understanding of their character and their progress. He termed mornings as something for the soul. One can say he was a jockey with a soul and a spirit. Beadman had the knack of putting his horse in the right position and would never consider coming second or third in a race.
Trainer John Hawkes described him as a horseman and jockey in one, a great and rare combination. Bart Cummings describes him as a jockey with brains who has God looking out for him. Kerry O’Brien puts it very aptly that with God on his shoulder, a whip in his hand a winner to ride, what could possibly go wrong with Darren Beadman.
At the time of writing this article Darren was working as co-trainer for John O’shea at Darley racing owned by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.