Linda Meech’s historic win in the Victorian jockeys’ premiership will be celebrated during the revamped Victorian Racing Awards, held at Crown Aviary on Saturday, September 7.
Meech became the first female rider to claim the coveted title after another stellar season in the saddle which yielded 139 wins across the state – an achievement made all the more remarkable given that she spent more than two months on the sidelines with a broken collarbone.
Her tally for the 2018-19 campaign saw the 38-year-old finish well clear of Irishman John Allen in second place (115 wins), with rising star Jye McNeil in third with 107 wins statewide.
Whilst Meech rode fewer city winners than some of her contemporaries, finishing 11th in the metropolitan jockeys’ premiership, her city strike rate was even more impressive than in the country with 25 winners and 34 placings from 172 rides.
“Winning the premiership was my main goal at the start of the season, so it’s obviously a great feeling to be able to tick it off finally,” said Meech.
“I’ve won the country premiership a few times but never managed to win the overall title before, so it’s always nice to achieve a first. I’d built up quite a nice lead before my injury, then the recovery took longer than anticipated so it was looking unlikely when I came back, but fortunately I managed to ride a few winners towards the end of the season which got me over the line.
“Jockeys are only as good as the horses they ride, so I have to thank all the trainers and owners for putting me on some nice ones and hopefully I can keep repaying the faith they have shown in me.”
For the fourth season in succession, Craig Williams claimed the Roy Higgins medal with a typical late-season surge sending him well clear of Damien Oliver.
The evergreen 41-year-old enjoyed his finest season in terms of pure numbers, with victory on Miss Iano at Caulfield last Saturday bringing up his 83rd metropolitan win for the 2018-19 campaign – two more than his previous best in 2007-08.
Williams’ tally saw him finish 18 wins clear of Oliver to secure his eighth metropolitan jockeys' premiership – between them, the two great rivals have now captured the city title a combined 18 times.
Due to the ineligibility of suspended trainer Darren Weir, the metropolitan trainers' premiership was claimed by the Lindsay Park training trio of David and Ben Hayes and Tom Dabernig, who won a total of 64 races in town during the 2018-19 season.
The Ciaron Maher and David Eustace training partnership were next best with 42 city winners, followed by Tony McEvoy with 39.
Lindsay Park also took the overall Victorian title, with their 158 country winners taking their combined haul to 222 for the season. The Maher-Eustace team saddled a total of 159 winners for the campaign, with Mick Price the next best on 94.