Racing Victoria’s (RV) Chief Executive and Chairman have joined the growing chorus of racing industry identities to pay tribute to the late Roy Higgins. Higgins, who passed away peacefully last night in a Melbourne Hospital, was an inaugural member of the Australian Racing Hall Of Fame and its patron. The former champion jockey was 75.

RV Chief Executive, Bernard Saundry, said Higgins’ phenomenal achievements on the track were only overshadowed by his strength of character and generosity.

“Roy was an icon of Australian racing but more importantly was a true gentleman who always went out of his way to help others,” Saundry said.

“On the track his record speaks for itself riding over 2300 winners including 100 at Group 1 level, but more important was the role Roy Higgins played in so many people’s live throughout the racing industry.

“He always had time for people who wanted to learn about racing and he was a great mentor to generations of young jockeys.

“Roy was a wonderful teacher as well as a great listener and this was no more evident than through his work as a mentor and riding instructor for the Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE.”

One of five inaugural Australian Racing Hall of Fame inductees, RV Chairman Rob Roulston said Higgins was a once-in-a-lifetime jockey who would be sorely missed, particularly tonight.

“It is unfortunate that his passing has occurred as we get ready to celebrate the induction of another 10 greats into the Australian Racing Hall of Fame in Canberra tonight,” Roulston said.

“Roy embraced the Hall of Fame more than any other and was a popular fixture each year welcoming new members into racing’s most illustrious club.

“He was a legend of Australian racing who will be sadly missed by all who were lucky enough to meet him and he will be in the hearts and minds of everyone at tonight’s induction ceremony.

“Roy was not only a champion jockey but a champion human being whose kindness and generosity touched the lives of many.

“Many of his achievements on the racetrack will likely never be matched again but it is the loss of a great mentor, racing expert and friend that will be felt the most.

“On behalf of the Board and staff of Racing Victoria, I extend our sympathies to the Higgins family and Roy’s many friends on his sad passing.”

In a stunning career that started in 1953 and ended 30 years later, Higgins won more than 2300 races including two Melbourne Cups aboard Light Fingers (1965) and Red Handed (1967).

He also won the Golden Slipper twice, a Cox Plate and Caulfield Cup to make him one of only seven jockeys to have won the Grand Slam in Australian racing.

He is one of only four Australian jockeys to have ridden 100 Group 1 winners.

Higgins won his first Melbourne Jockeys’ Premiership in 1965, an award he would win a further 10 times up until 1978, which was an equal record with Bill Duncan.