Skip to main content

Billy Cook and Pride of Egypt
, 1954

by Ern McQuillan

gelatin silver photograph (sheet: 30.3 cm x 40.4 cm)

Billy Cook (1910-1985), jockey, grew up in the Sydney suburb of Hornsby, where he delivered meat from his father’s butcher shop by horse and cart. In 1930 he won the Caulfield Cup on Amounis; he went on to amass a career total of 2 300 wins, including Skipton in the Melbourne Cup in 1941 and Rainbird in the same race in 1945. Other Australian races he won included the Sydney Cup, AJC Oaks, Doomben Newmarket, AJC Metropolitans, VRC New Market and the Rose Hill Guineas. Many of his victories were in India and Europe; he won a Bombay Jockey Premiership and was asked to ride for King George VI while in England. He retired in 1959. His son, Peter Cook, also won Melbourne Cups in 1981 and 1984.

In 1954, three-year old Pride of Egypt won the Hobartville Stakes at 50 to 1; lost the QTC Derby at 6 to 1 on; and won the AJC St Leger at 25 to 1 on. These disparate results make him both one of the longest-priced, and one of the shortest-priced, horses ever to win a feature race and one of the shortest-priced horses ever to lose a Group 1 race. In later life he lived in the USA, where he died in 1968.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Purchased with funds provided by L Gordon Darling AC CMG 2004
Accession number: 2004.40