Riding legend Jack Purtell passes away
His lengthy nose may have led to several different nicknames over the years but the moniker of 'Gentleman Jim' was the most apt when describing former Melbourne jockey great Jack Purtell, who died at the age of 95 on Wednesday.
The winner of seven Melbourne jockeys' premierships - the first in 1946-47 - Purtell also notched three Melbourne Cups - Hiraji in 1947, Wodalla in 1953, and Rising Fast in 1954 - and he could have ridden more.
A broken foot stopped him from riding Rivette in the 1939 Melbourne Cup and in 1950 he opted not to ride Comic Court for Jim Cummings, selecting a three-year-old Alister instead as his mount.
Despite his association with the great Rising Fast, Purtell regarded Comic Court as the best horse he partnered despite missing that Melbourne Cup ride.
Purtell also rode four Cox Plate winners from 1950 through to 1956 and finished his career with about 1700 winners.
Purtell, who was only once suspended in Melbourne for careless riding, was inducted into Australian racing's Hall Of Fame in 2004.
He also figured in one of the most famous Australian racing photographs of all time as he rode Fighting Force when it dead-heated with both Pandie Sun and Ark Royal in the 1956 Hotham Handicap at Flemington.
Despite his dominance in Melbourne, Purtell only enjoyed rare success when he matched up against fellow riding greats Neville Sellwood and George Moore in Sydney, but while Sydney never saw the best of Purtell, his riding abilities were recognised on the other side of the world.
In 1964 he joined the stables of the champion Irishman Vincent O'Brien and in 1965, Purtell won the English Oaks in 1965 on Long Look.
Purtell retired from the saddle at the age of 45 in 1966 and turned his hand to becoming a Victoria Racing Club steward before retiring to Queensland in the early 1980s.