One has to have a lot of skills to become a jockey. Jim Pike is an example of one such man. He rode so many horses to victory that he does not know how many times he has won
Phar Lap and Pike had made their mark on Australia’s racing history. Jim Pike was popular with punters for his riding skills and his personality.
James ‘Jim’ Edward Pike and his partnership with the mighty Phar Lap will always be remembered. Pike was born in 1892 in Newcastle, New South Wales. He was only 13 when he started jockeying.
He got a taste of the race track because his father was a racecourse attendant. He would often skip school to ride horses. Ernie Connors started guiding Jim Pike when Jim was 12 and weighed 25 kilograms. Jim Pike was banned twice because he was a minor.
Jim started training under trainer William Kelso in Sydney. He won his first race in July 1906. By the beginning of 1908 Jim Pike had 40 wins to his credit. It was with William Kelso’s faith that Jim Pike went to England. The trip was not so fruitful as the twosome could only get two wins. However, Jim Pike’s riding skills were noticed by Lord Carnarvon.
One of the best wins of Jim Pike’s career was the 1909 Australian Cup, which is a Group 1 Weight for Age race for thoroughbred racehorses. In this race Jim Pike held on to steer Pendil to victory. The next year he rode Beverage to victory in the Victoria Derby, an Australian thoroughbred race held annually on the first day of Melbourne’s annual Spring Racing Carnival.
During World War I Jim Pike stopped racing. In July 1920, Jim Pike married Barbara Daphne Hume, who proved to be lucky for Jim Pike.
During the mid-1920s Jim Pike rode The Hawke, an exceptional New Zealand bred thoroughbred horse, to fourteen victories. Jim Pike added the Victoria Derby and the AJC and VRC (Victoria Race Club) St Legers to his kitty in 1928-29. He rode Strephon to win the Victoria Derby.
Jim Pike rode Chatham, an outstanding Australian thoroughbred horse bred by Percy Miller at the Kia Ora stud near Scone in the Hunter Valley, New South Wales, to two Epsom Handicap (Group 1 Australian thoroughbred race held over 1,600 metres at Randwick Racecourse) victories. Inspite of a wet track Jim Pike managed to win the Doncaster, a Group 2 flat horse race in Great Britain.
Jim Pike and Phar Lap have been named one of the best pairs in Australian horse racing. The pair won the 1929 Victoria Derby in record time which marked the beginning of a long partnership that lasted 30 races with 27 wins and included both the St Legers.
Many people did not like the success being enjoyed by Phar Lap and Jim Pike. There was an attempt on Phar Lap’s life which forced the duo to go into hiding before winning the 1930 Melbourne Cup. The 1931 Melbourne Cup, he came in 8th position probably due to him carrying to much weight 10.10. The partnership broke up when Phar Lap went to America and Jim Pike decided he would not ride any more horses.
Another thoroughbred that Jim Pike rode to victory after victory including the AJC Derby and the AJC St Leger was Peter Pan. Jim Pike could not ride Peter Pan in the 1934 Melbourne Cup because of a suspension.
Pike was so gentle that he rarely used a whip on the horses he rode. He depended more on his judgement of pace and his riding skills that he used to control his horses. Pike retired in April 1936 because of increasing weight problems. By this time he had an unbeatable record of 129 wins in major events.
He died on 7 October 1969 at his Bondi home and was cremated. His wife, son and daughter survived him.