Athol George Mulley Australian Jockey
Athol George Mulley Wins Three Golden Slippers
All of the great Australian jockeys throughout the history of horse racing could point to at least one and in some cases several, quality thoroughbreds that served the dual roles of not only acting to add to their total win tallies, but also enhancing their reputations to an extent that resulted in their receiving the assignment to ride other quality horses.
The flaw in this fact comes from the reality that most thoroughbreds seldom compete for longer than three or four seasons, while a competent jockey aspiring to greatness can easily ride for 30 years or more.
Perhaps no better example of this claim could be provided than in an examination of a jockey named Athol George Mulley.
He did compete successfully for something in the neighborhood of 40 years, but he will be forever remembered for a period of time less than a year in duration between December 1945 and October 1946.
During that time, Athol George Mulley was fortunate to take many rides sitting astride Bernborough, one of the undisputed all-time greats of the Australian turf.
The two combined to produce 15 consecutive victories together, besting high quality competitors both human and equine.
Despite this phenomenal performance, however, the combination came to a rather poor conclusion when Athol Mulley was lifted from Bernborough due to the pair’s managing only a fifth place in the 1946 Caulfield Cup. No allowance was given Mulley for the fact that Bernborough’s reputation and performance found him drawing a huge weight for that event.
Bernborough was not penalized for the poor showing in the Caulfield Cup, unlike his rider. The Australian Racing Hall of Fame welcomed the horse with the inaugural class.
Athol Mulley himself would say of the horse, “He’s a freak. Once he start to wind up nothing can stop him.” He was often compared to Phar Lap, in fact, Bernborough even had his admirers from that camp, such as strapper Tommy Woodcock, who said of Bernborough, “A great horse. A bulldog in a finish and too brilliant for Phar Lap in a sprint.”
Athol George Mulley, however, was not a member of the ranks of jockeys that made the inaugural class of the Hall of Fame.
He had to wait until 2012, although he died 11 years prior to being recognized. Nonetheless, his credentials for inclusion in the Hall were considerable by any standard.
Sydney Jockey Premiership
For starters, he won two Sydney Jockeys’ Premierships. Other jockeys might claim more, but Athol George Mulley’s are remarkable for two reasons. His first, in the 1945-46 season, was so dominant, due in large part to Bernborough’s contribution, that the nearest competitor was no closer than 15 victories behind.
The second, in 1960-61 shows the kind of longevity that is generally a critical component on a jockey’s resume.
He also has prestigious races to his credit, including three Golden Slipper Stakes, those coming in 1958, 1960 and 1964. It is generally thought that Athol George Mulley has over 2000 wins to his credit, along with 110 feature wins and over 40 in races that would eventually be designated with Group 1 status.
Mulley, like man who have worn the silks before him, and many that followed, had his brushes with racing authorities.
He was warned off when his mount, the favoured Cambridge, failed to place in the 1956 Australian Cup.
Five years later, in that same race, he gave up his ride on Dream King only to see the horse win by five lengths against 33/1 odds after failing to even place in his previous ten races, leading to claims of foul play that implicated some less than scrupulous activities on the parts of some bookies and high profile punters.
After 25 years in the saddle, Athol George Mulley retired to spend the next 15 as a trainer.
He died as the result of complications Of Parkinson’s Disease in 2001. Royal Randwick racecourse in Sydney created a trophy is his honour that is annually presented to the most successful apprentice during the racing season at that track.