Ray Selkrig's loss is a big one for the industry
July 4, 2023
It would be hard to find a more popular and well thought of jockey than Ray Selkrig.
He began his career in 1945 when apprenticed to Randwick trainer Bayly Payten. He had his first ride in February 1947 and rode his first winner in October 1947 on Jack Craw at Randwick.
Payten died in 1948 and Ray’s indentures were transferred briefly to JS Payten and then to his father Frank, a former jockey, when he took out a trainer’s licence.
Dux of the AJC Apprentice School in 1948 is one of Ray’s proudest memories and the winners were beginning to flow. He was twice the winner of the Apprentice Jockeys Premiership before coming out of his time as a qualified jockey in March 1951. By then Ray was riding the better horses and began to make a name for himself as a leading rider.
The horse that put him on the map was Grey Boots, a grey son of Nizami who won the Doncaster in 1950.
Many big race wins followed such as six Derbies, a Metropolitan, a Brisbane Cup, two Villiers, a Queen’s Cup, three Rosehill Guineas, a Canterbury Guineas, an AJC Sires’ Produce Stakes, two Chipping Norton Stakes, two Chelmsfords, a George Main and a Canterbury Stakes, many other weight-for-age races as well as innumerable staying cups and an amazing nine Anniversary Handicaps.
Some of the notable horses Ray rode to these wins were Royal Sovereign, Bardshah, Latin Knight, Prince Delville, Maidenhead, Persian Lyric, Swift Peter, El Gordo, Compass, St. Joel, Brindisi and Fair Patton. The crowning glory of Ray’s career came in 1961 when, with a daring ride, he led all the way in the Melbourne Cup to win on Lord Fury.
In 1958/59 Ray won the Sydney Jockeys Premiership with 66 winners.
As with all jockeys Ray had his falls and injuries. The most spectacular of these came in 1973 when he was dislodged from Hot Chestnut in the final few metres of a race at Kembla Grange but held on to the reins as he was dragged past the post still in front. The stewards deemed the horse to have carried its full weight and they declared him the winner.
After his injury-forced retirement in 1984 Ray gave of his time freely to speak at and attend functions all around the country. He was called on regularly by racing clubs and organisations and became a de facto ambassador for racing. The ATC Heritage Centre was also a beneficiary of his largesse when he became a volunteer with the ATC Heritage Society and assisted with the maintenance of the collection and meeting visitors to the centre.
Ray donated to the ATC Heritage Collection the saddle on which he won his six Derbies, three on Royal Sovereign, and one each on Prince Delville, Swift Peter and Gold Brick.
Ray became the oldest living Melbourne Cup winning jockey when Jim Johnson passed away in 2021.
A gentleman and an outstanding jockey was Raymond Russell Selkrig.
Story courtesy of Graham Caves
Photo: Steve Hart
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