Popular Hall of Fame jockey W A ‘Billy’ Smith has died at the age of 92.
The well-travelled rider began his career as an apprentice in Melbourne in the 1940s before heading to Western Australia where he rode for close to five years.
In the mid-1950s he took up an opportunity in New Zealand where he enjoyed great success, plundering several of the country’s best races and winning five jockeys’ premierships.
He returned to Melbourne for the 1960 spring carnival and captured the Melbourne Cup on Kiwi mare High Jinx, who was a 50-1 outsider.
That success led Smith to re-establish himself in Melbourne where he based himself for the next decade, winning the 1960-61 jockeys’ premiership and a host of major races, including the 1961 Caulfield Cup.
A natural lightweight, Smith retired during the 1982-83 season as the winner of more than 50 feature races, 18 at the highest level.
He was inducted into the Australian Racing Hall of Fame in 2018.
Racing Victoria chief executive Giles Thompson said Smith, who died on Thursday, would be remembered fondly.
“On behalf of the Victorian racing industry, I would like to extend our heartfelt prayers and condolences to Billy’s family and friends following the sad news of his passing,” Thompson said.
“Billy was an outstanding jockey who saw success all across Australian and international racetracks and his achievements in the saddle will long be remembered through his membership of the Australian Racing Hall of Fame.”