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"Frank Wootton" (Image plate from Vanity Fair)
, c. 1908

by Sir Leslie Ward

chromolithograph (sheet: 39.8 cm x 26.6 cm)

Francis (Frank) Wootton (1893-1940), jockey, was the son of a Sydney horse trainer, Dick Wootton, who is said to have been so determined that his two sons would become jockeys that he denied them food. When Frank was nine, his father judged him to be ready to race. In Australia, boys had to be fourteen before they were allowed to ride professionally, so the family moved to South Africa, where there was no minimum age for jockeys. Frank won his first race in 1903 - aged ten - and had won seventeen races by the time he was thirteen. The family proceeded to England, where in 1909 Frank - known as the 'Wonderboy' - became the first Australian to top the jockeys' premiership list. Having served in Palestine and Mesopotamia in the First World War, Frank returned to England to ride in the National Hunt. While his brother thrived as a horse trainer and breeder in England and New South Wales, Frank moved back to Sydney in poor health in 1933. Having been convicted of drunkenness, he died of traumatic epilepsy in Long Bay Gaol.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of Ronald A Walker 2009. Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program.
Accession number: 2009.107