Vale Jim Johnson

It is with sadness that Racing Victoria (RV) and the Victorian Jockey Association (VJA) acknowledge the passing overnight of three-time Melbourne Cup-winning jockey Jim ‘Jimmy’ Johnson.  

Johnson, 92, was inducted into the Australian Racing Hall of Fame in 2009 after a career in the saddle that spanned more than 30 years with success in 125 feature races. 

He rode his first winner in 1945, and by the early 1960s his winning tally was over 1,000 having claimed four Adelaide jockeys' premierships. 

In 1963, he had a stroke of luck when he picked up the ride on Gatum Gatum in the Melbourne Cup. His subsequent win in the Cup at 25/1 lifted him to national prominence and persuaded him to try his luck full time in Victoria.

Success came quickly and Johnson won the Melbourne jockeys' premiership in the 1966-67 season which included a dominant performance in the 1966 Spring Carnival when he won nine weight-for-age events. 

Johnson enjoyed great success with many stars of the turf most notably Tobin Bronze, on whom he won the Caulfield Cup and two Cox Plates, and Rain Lover whom he piloted to dual Melbourne Cup successes in 1968 and 1969.

Johnson rode in Singapore from 1970 to 1973, winning the jockeys' premiership there in 1972 and 1973. When he finally retired in 1976, he had ridden 2158 winners and claimed his place as one of the greats of Australian racing.

RV Chief Executive, Giles Thompson, said: “On behalf of the Victorian racing industry, I would like to extend our heartfelt prayers and condolences to Jimmy’s family and friends following the sad news of his passing. 

“Jimmy was an exceptional jockey who tasted success in our greatest races. He is one of the few jockeys to win a Melbourne Cup, Caulfield Cup and Cox Plate and his achievements in the saddle will long be remembered and celebrated through his place in the Australian Racing Hall of Fame.

“Jimmy was a popular member of the racing community, a true gentleman and great ambassador for our sport long after his incredible success in the saddle. He was an active and passionate supporter of the racing industry in retirement as a regular face on the Melbourne Cup Tour and attendee at Hall of Fame functions.”

VJA CEO, Matt Hyland, said: “On behalf of the Victorian Jockeys Association and all our members both current and past, I would like to pass on our deepest sympathies to the Johnson family on the news of Jimmy’s passing.

“Jimmy was an incredibly talented jockey whose passion and dedication to racing both during and after his career was something to be admired and he will be deeply missed by all in the racing community.

“As well as being a well-deserved member of the Australian Racing Hall of Fame he was an iconic figure to so many jockeys across all eras”.