With a history dating back more than 200 years, it is fair to say that horse racing has established itself as one of the most popular sports in Australia.
The country stages some of the most famous events in the world including the Melbourne Cup – widely known as ‘the race that stops the nation’.
Given Australia’s passion for horse racing, it naturally follows that it is home to some of the finest jockeys on the planet. Read on as we look at four of the best.
Horse racing and betting are intrinsically linked – a factor which makes it imperative for every punter to understand which jockeys are worth following.
For anyone just learning how to bet on horses in Australian racing, a good start point is to wager on any fancied runners ridden by James McDonald.
The New Zealand born jockey is rated by many respected pundits as the best rider in the world and it is difficult to argue with that viewpoint.
McDonald has had Group 1 successes in several major racing jurisdictions including Australia, Hong Kong and the United Kingdom.
The Kiwi star famously won the Melbourne Cup aboard Verry Elleegant in 2021 and has become closely associated with winning machine Romantic Warrior in recent times.
Mark Zahra has developed into one of the most sought-after jockeys in Australia over the past few years, particularly whenever Group 1 races are staged.
He went under the radar a little during the early part of his career, but sprang to prominence when winning the Turnbull Stakes and Caulfield Cup aboard Verry Elleegant in 2020.
However, the Aussie jockey took things up a notch a couple of years later when steering Gold Trip to victory in the 2022 Melbourne Cup.
Zahra demonstrated his ability to make big calls when he rejected the ride on Gold Trip in favour of piloting Without A Fight in the 2023 edition of the race.
That decision was vindicated when Zahra guide Without A Fight to an easy victory. Gold Trip was unable to repeat his heroics from the previous year as he finished 17th.
With numerous Group 1 successes on his CV, Damian Lane is undoubtedly one of the best jockeys produced by Australia in recent years.
The 29-year-old has won numerous top-class races in Australia, Japan and Hong Kong to highlight why many respected judges rate him as the man for the big occasion.
Lane famously won the Japanese Derby aboard Tastiera in 2023, making him the first jockey from the southern hemisphere to win one of the classics in Japan.
There have been rumours that he will eventually join the ranks in Japan permanently, although Australian racing will be eager to retain his services.
Although Lane is yet to win the Melbourne Cup, it would be a major surprise if he failed to achieve the feat at least once in his career.
Having ridden more than 2,000 winners during his illustrious career, Craig Williams can rightly lay claim to being one of the finest jockeys Australia has ever produced.
Williams notably had a stint with trainer Mick Channon in the United Kingdom earlier in his career – a spell that including winning the 2000 Dewhurst Stakes aboard Tobougg.
He came close to recording an historic treble in 2011. After winning the Caufield Cup and Cox Plate, Williams was scheduled to ride Dunaden in the Melbourne Cup.
However, he picked up a suspension in the run-up to the race and had to watch from the sidelines as replacement Christophe Lemaire steered the horse to a memorable victory.
The Australian jockey rode 18 Group race winners last season to demonstrate why he is ranked so highly by his peers.