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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

Billy Cook and Pride of Egypt

1954
Ern McQuillan OAM

gelatin silver photograph on paper (image/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
Purchased with funds provided by L Gordon Darling AC CMG 2004

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. Works of art from the collection are reproduced as per the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). The use of images of works from the collection may be restricted under the Act. Requests for a reproduction of a work of art can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

Artist and subject

Ern McQuillan OAM (age 28 in 1954)

Billy Cook (age 44 in 1954)

Subject professions

Sports and recreation

Supported by

L Gordon Darling AC CMG (38 portraits supported)

Related information

The Companion

Permanent collection catalogue

Café and shop

On one level The Companion talks about the most famous and frontline Australians, but on another it tells us about ourselves: who we read, who we watch, who we listen to, who we cheer for, who we aspire to be, and who we'll never forget. The Companion is available to buy online and in the Portrait Gallery Store.

Betty Cuthbert
Betty Cuthbert
Betty Cuthbert
Betty Cuthbert

Hop, skip, shoot

Magazine article by Simon Elliott, 2004

Former NPG Deputy Director, Simon Elliott talks with Ern McQuillan about his life and career as a sports photographer.

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
Elizabeth
Elizabeth

Darling Portrait Prize

Previous exhibition, 2020

The Darling Prize is a new annual prize for Australian portrait painters, painting Australian sitters. The winner receives a cash prize of $75,000.

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders past and present. We respectfully advise that this site includes works by, images of, names of, voices of and references to deceased people.

This website comprises and contains copyrighted materials and works. Copyright in all materials and/or works comprising or contained within this website remains with the National Portrait Gallery and other copyright owners as specified.

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. The use of images of works of art reproduced on this website and all other content may be restricted under the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). Requests for a reproduction of a work of art or other content can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

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