Jimmy Cook A Character - Qld Gallops - Racehorse TALK
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Jimmy Cook A Character - Qld Gallops - Racehorse TALK

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Offline Arsenal

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O.P. « 2017-Apr-28, 07:09 PM »

Jimmy Cook - wild tales you can believe!
BY Bruce Clark - @snowyclark

1 day ago Horse Racing

That's Jimmy Cook (and mate Typhoon Monaco: Pic Aquanita)



The late satirist John Clarke once famously described Prince Charles as “having a head like the FA Cup”. You know-  long face, prominent ears – well just like the handles on the old FA Cup.

He could have easily been describing W J (for) Jimmy Cook.  That’s Jimmy under the Aquanita bucket hat in the photo. Can you see what Clarke meant?

Of course you know Prince Charles, but unless you followed Queensland racing in the 80’s and 90’s you’ve probably never heard of Jim.

But Jim represents what makes Australian racing far more interesting, colourful, edgy and earthy – more Damon Runyon and anything but how you’d describe Charles.

Put Cook down as a jockey first – well mostly – when he wasn’t rubbed out, which was often. Throw in strapper and track rider, cook (not chef), tyre changer, truck driver, cotton picker, abattoir worker, or just Jim of all trades. Survivor! Sleeping in car for weeks on end!

But it all starts with racing.

Any bloke who starts his conversation about his past with “I got 12 months for trying and 12 months for holding” has got a story, or many stories to tell – and all of them true. You can’t make these up!

And Jim starts telling them to G1X.com. And telling them, and telling them.

And after an hour of them over the phone he rings back again: ‘I forgot the one about the day at Gatton”. The next morning the phone rings again “I thought of another one – the day I got off one using the excuse of parallax error.” Stay tuned.

The script for the stories in his movie would be dismissed for being too fictitious – but they are not.

Jimmy has been rubbed out more times than a school kid’s maths homework in an exercise book but he can’t break free from his love of the game. “I don’t know a lot, but I know racing. It’s all I’ve known since I was 15.”

Cook is now 55, he’s 52kg but had his last race ride in 2010 (Impeding at Eagle Farm). He misses it but is loving the opportunity that Robert Smerdon and Aquanita Racing has given him to work from their stables. But when he starts telling his stories, they are well told, seemingly not too embellished because they are rich enough already.

Here’s a snapshot. And these are not said with any hint of boast, just as a bloke would tell a mate a yarn.
“I got 12 months for trying on one, 12 months for holding one. I got six months three times. There was a stretch there I got three months in a row every August for four years”
“I had five rides at Ipswich one day and ended up in the steward’s room for every ride. Lucky I didn’t have a full book. Got three months.
“I was looking in trouble at Eagle Farm one day so told the stewards I had $200 of me own on the horse .The stewards asked ‘did you think that impaired your judgement'? I said ‘I wouldn’t have thought so’”.
“I appealed a nine meeting careless riding suspension one day and ended up with 12 months, that one went pear shaped.”
“I rode one at Gatton one day and was coming back and the punters along the fence were singing ‘three blind mice’ and I started singing with them. Next thing I was before the stewards, it was like a scene from Homicide, I was there for three or four hours.”
“I reckon I was the first jockey to ever ride in the first race on a Saturday at Randwick (Himalaya Vain) and win the last race at Eagle Farm (Unique Memento for Kelso Wood)

So you’ve got the idea about W J Cook.  Old school yes, bit of a rogue, for sure, fearless horseman from a different era.

Jimmy would catch the (Greyhound) bus to the races in western Queensland – or drive a truck. When you say to the races, that could be like driving 1000km to Nocundra for one ride then drive the 18 hour round trip to Caloundra to cop time.

“Stewards pinged me and asked if I knew where the crown of the track was at Caloundra and why I didn’t ride to it. I asked them if they knew where Nocundra was, I’d just come from there,” he said.

He rode the winner at Nocundra (Never Give In – he remembers its name) and copped a six months suspension reduced to three for his Sunshine Coast ride that day.

It’s like when he drove the truck to Middlemount, it was missing a gear, and was rolling backwards towards a drop. “We got the horses out and I won the Cup,” he said.

Bell, Betoota, Burra, Charleville, Chinchilla, Cloncurry, Jundah, Miles, Kumbia, Noorama all feature on Cooks winning track list. He never rode a winner at Collarenabri, but nor did he had he at Flemington and Moonee Valley – where he also rode – one time each.

“I was no superstar, I only rode 14 winners in town but I knew what to do. You’d get 3-1 with me or evens if you put (Mick) Dittman on but we did the same job,” Cook said.

That is too say W J Cook was a good judge and a fearless “money” jockey in an era when it was ‘get your own’. If he was drawn 16 and on the pea, there wasn’t disrespect for those inside him, but he found the fence quicker than most others.

Former Queensland Chief Steward Ray Murrihy remembers Cook well.

“There were two Jimmy’s, the day the money was on and the day it wasn’t” Murrihy told G1X.com.au.

“One thing about Jimmy was there was never any animosity, at the end of the day, you closed your book and Jimmy accepted whatever happened.

“It takes you back to a different generation, there was nothing you’d dislike about Jim, that’s the way he knew the game, he played it on his terms and you took him on or you didn’t.

“In the matrix of racing, they were better days in lots of regards, it’s so sanitised now, you wonder if the likes of a Jimmy Cook would survive,” Murrihy said.

But Cook has survived, stretches, poverty, odd jobs, ill health. A broken leg and injured hip from a Toowoomba barrier jump out mishap seven years ago ended any thoughts of a rekindled career. Not that he hasn’t thought about it - almost every day.

“I sat at home for seven years not doing much and struggling but always wanted to get back into it,” Cook said.

And he is still passionate about the sport and the horse today. And riding – if he could make a comeback, Racing New South Wales scuppered that when he applied not so long ago, he would do it tomorrow. (Something to do with his record I believe).

“I’m no threat to anyone, I’ve still got the desire and I’m not frightened. I ride the pony every morning here at Aquanita and a gallop here or there but if I die tomorrow without riding in a race again, I’d have missed something, it just wouldn’t be the same,” Cook said.

Cook’s first step back came when Kris Lees gave him a job at Newcastle.

“I slept in my car for six weeks before I found accommodation there but Kris was terrific to me, to give me a chance,” Cook said.

But when any chance of riding was eliminated in New South Wales, Cook was on the move again, and found his way to Aquanita. Again he slept in his car before getting a job he cherishes today.

“I’ve done everything in my life, I was cotton chipping back in Queensland, it was 50 degrees and I was miles from a water bag and all I was thinking about was horses.

“I’ve lived on watermelons and biscuits, I’ve changed tyres, worked in an abattoir constantly on the go but cooking was always a regular gig,” Cook said.

The two big stretches in the Cook CV come from the horses Thunder Rolls and Candy Rock.

It was Candy Rock first – November 25, 1992, $4 out to $7 (or 3-1 to 6-1 in the then odds).

He finished  seventh, beaten 2.1 lengths. An inquiry was opened.

“I reckoned I mistook the furlong poles,” Cook said.

“It wasn’t looking good so I thought  I’d better do something here. I said I backed it, had $200 on him. I had to pay the punter for the day off work then they fined him $500 and I had to pay his fine as well, it just got worse and worse,” Cook said.

It did, the late Keith Mahoney rode Candy Rock next start at Eagle Farm. “He came from last on the home turn and run going away,” Cook said.

Thunder Rolls was another 12 month stint for Cook.

This was 1994. Cook rode him in a maiden when the betting was a little soft: 9-4 out to 3-1. Stewards weren’t impressed but it became a showcase trial in Queensland with rules subsequently re-written after an appeal upheld the original verdict.

There are countless other stories like the day Cook was about to ride a “good thing” at Gatton when he was asked to look at the horse that was sporting a black eye. “I was told if I win on this I’d end up with the same.” You can guess the result.

Or when he was warned by stewards as to an awareness of what might be going on in a race. “If I was you I’d be getting in my car and going home I was told,” Cook said.

And if you want to know how Jimmy beat one wrap citing Parallax vision as a defence for his tactics you need to understand what that is.

“Parallax is a displacement or difference in the apparent position of an object viewed along two different lines of sight, and is measured by the angle or semi-angle of inclination between those two lines. The term is derived from the Greek word (parallaxis), meaning "alternation".

“I said if you sit in the driver’s seat of a car travelling at 100km and sit in the passenger’s seat it seems like 120km……”

No I didn’t understand where that was going either, maybe Jimmy didn’t either but then nor did the stewards of the day. Case dismissed. Unlike most others.

Jimmy Cook is one of the most enduring characters on Australian racing.And worth a chat. We haven't exhausted half of what he told us here.

Giddy Up :beer:


« Last Edit: 2017-Apr-28, 07:12 PM by Arsenal »

Online Mick

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« 2017-Apr-29, 10:15 AM Reply #1 »
A great story on W.J.
A good friend for more years than either of us would care to remember.
The next installment of the career of Cookie Will be just as interesting.

Offline the bishop

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« 2018-Nov-28, 03:34 PM Reply #2 »
Spend time with Jimmy in Melbourne during the Cup carnival. Now working with Ciaron Maher at Caulfield and popular with everyone around the stables where he is a genuine character. Jimmy picked me up at Caulfield rain station in his old Falcon with 480,000km on the clock. Always a hard worker, W J still has that laconic bush humour and tremendous work ethic.


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