Bill Duncan Australian Jockey
Bill Duncan Australian Jockey Inducted In To Racing Hall Of Fame
Those jockeys who have produced accomplishments of sufficient significance to earn induction into the Australian Racing Hall of Fame are a select few of the many thousands who have made a living riding horses.
One of these few was known as William “Bill” Duncan.
This man made his mark during the time period coming betwixt World War I and World War II. He won his first race in 1916 as a 16-year-old apprentice and his first important win came two years later in the 1918 Coongy Handicap.
Duncan Wins Melbourne Cup
Less than a month found Duncan taking the top prize in that year’s Melbourne Cup when he piloted Night Watch to a narrow victory in one of the fastest times in the race’s history to that point.
Duncan was given the ride because he was one of the few jockeys who could provide for the light 42 kg weight assigned to Night March, but it must be said that he did not squander the opportunity.
Small even by jockey standards, Duncan was to offer ample evidence that his 1918 Melbourne Cup victory was anything but a fluke.
Certainly one of his primary accomplishments would have to be his record-setting 11 Melbourne jockeys’ premierships that stood the test of time and required no less than one Roy Higgins to surpass it.
74 of the almost 900 wins Duncan recorded were stakes races. He won a second Melbourne Cup in 1932 whilst riding the T. J. Smith trained Peter Pan, a victory that included the until then third fastest race time in Cup history. Earlier, in 1928 in 1929, he won the Caulfield cup aboard Maple and High Syce, respectively.
The Australian Cup, Epson Handicap, the VRC Oaks, the W. S. Cox Plate, Doncaster Handicap, Metro Handicap and the AJC Oaks were but a few of the major races Duncan one betwixt 1924 and 1932.
During that time, he won a second Australian Cup and other major handicap and weight for age events.
From a historical perspective, one of the most impressive performances in a career that contained many impressive performances came during the 1925 AJC Derby.
Duncan’s mount Manfred gave the rest of the field a 100 m advantage when he loitered in the barrier whilst the others headed off. Duncan not only closed the gap, but went to post the victory.
He had so succeeded in establishing his reputation for extreme competence that he earned a ride aboard the immortal Phar Lap, although the two paired on just the one occasion.
Like many who have taken on the risk of riding large, powerful thoroughbreds in competition, Duncan met with and overcame adversity during his career.
One fall in 1929 produced a broken back that nearly supplied an early retirement. Four years later, another serious fall did convince Duncan that it was time to conclude his career as a rider.
Australian Hall Of Fame
William “Bill” Duncan went to his eternal reward in 1983 and was inducted into the Australian racing Hall of Fame in 2003.
During his career, he was living proof that skill and determination, along with what many consider luck, a form of good fortune that others realize is the spot where hard work and preparation join forces, were a joy to behold.