It was with great sadness that the Victoria Racing Club (VRC) learned of the passing of 1999 Melbourne Cup-winning jockey and Lexus Melbourne Cup Tour ambassador John Marshall.
Western Australian-born Marshall rode a memorable race astride Rogan Josh to claim Melbourne Cup victory in 1999, partnering with Bart Cummings to deliver the ‘Cup’s King’ his eleventh Cup victory.
VRC Chief Executive Officer Neil Wilson said Marshall was considered in the top echelon of riders during the 1980s and 1990s.
“As a jockey riding in Sydney, he was the premier metropolitan rider of the 1987/88 racing season and rode many winners in the metropolitan area,” Mr Wilson said.
“He had a strong association with the legendary Bart Cummings securing many feature races along the way.
“Their greatest success undoubtedly was in the 1999 Melbourne Cup when former Western Australian galloper Rogan Josh took all before him at the 1999 Melbourne Cup Carnival winning the MacKinnon Stakes–Melbourne Cup double.
“He achieved the ultimate dream for every jockey having ridden Mr Jazz (1983, 3rd) and Rosedale (1987, 3rd) to previous minor placings in Australia’s greatest horse race.
“But it was John’s commitment to the Lexus Melbourne Cup Tour in recent years that renewed his association with the VRC and showed the true character of the man and what he was prepared to give back to the general community.
“He travelled extensively across Australia as well as New Zealand and the Middle East, promoting the Melbourne Cup within the community.
“His understanding of the racing game and passion for sharing his knowledge with the general community was outstanding. He was always considered one of the best ambassadors the VRC has had associated with this event.
“The VRC extends its condolences to John’s wife Deborah and two sons Taylor and Lachlan,” Mr Wilson said.
As a regular rider for the legendary Cummings stable, one of Marshall’s biggest breaks came when he rode Beau Zam in the 1988 Queen Elizabeth Stakes in front of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, declaring the win as one of his favourite racing moments.
Riding in Hong Kong for four years from 1990, Marshall then spent years on the Gold Coast before going back to Sydney only two months before the 1999 Melbourne Cup.
At age 41, retirement was looming for Marshall until Cummings requested him to ride in the Epsom Handicap on Allez Suez (1999), where he crossed the line a winner.
As a result, Cummings approached Marshall later that year to ride imported stayer Ruy Lopez in the 1999 Melbourne Cup. When Ruy Lopez was no longer a Cup starter Marshall believed his Cup days were over, until Cummings booked him for Rogan Josh.
The VRC will acknowledge Marshall’s passing with on-course flags altered to half-mast for the New Year’s Day meeting where a race will be named in his honour. Jockeys will wear black armbands in the race as a mark of respect.
John Marshall career highlights
- Rode more than 40 group one wins and in excess of 2,000 winners
- Leading New South Wales metropolitan jockey 1987/88
- Rode for Bart Cummings for over 20 years
- Best horses ridden: Beau Zam, Might and Power, Saintly, Rogan Josh, Campaign King
- Much admired and highly valued ambassador for the annual Lexus Melbourne Cup Tour between 2006 and 2018