Tommy Corrigan is regarded as one of Australia’s greatest ever jumps jockeys. His outstanding career on the flat and over the jumps includes 788 race starts, from which Corrigan had 238 wins and 230 placings, including wins in six Grand Nationals Steeplechases and one Grand National Hurdle. His skill and courage as a jockey were renowned, and were immortalised in the words of Banjo Patterson: ‘…by danger undismayed, he never flinched from fence or wall, he never was afraid’.

Born in Ireland in 1854, Corrigan came to Victoria with his parents at the age of ten. Three years later he rode in his first race as an apprentice, and in 1872 he had a mount in the Melbourne Cup. But it was over jumps that he excelled.

Corrigan was of small stature, even for a jockey, and boasted a huge handlebar moustache. The racing public held him in great esteem and affection. He was described in the Argus as: ‘Possessing a kindly, genial disposition, and being as open as the day, he made friends everywhere. Added to this, he is one of the most capable horsemen over fences ever seen in Australia.’

Corrigan died following a fall in the VATC Grand National Steeplechase on 11 August 1894. His funeral was reported to be one of the largest ever seen in Melbourne. The cortege of more than 250 vehicles left his Caulfield home for the Melbourne General Cemetery, and was joined at Princes Bridge by 150 jockeys and trainers who marched in procession. Corrigan’s green and white jacket and his boots rested on the coffin and were buried with him.

Corrigan was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2017.

‘…the most fearless, yet lovable man that was ever legged up on to a horse. I knew him in the saddle, I knew him in the jockey’s room and off the racecourse. He was the soul of honour. He rode hard, but fair, and always had a word of congratulation for those who defeated him.’ James Hayes (

Image Source: National Library of Australia