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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.

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Jack Purtell

n.d.
John Frith

plasticine maquette (16.0 cm x 10.0 cm depth 13.5 cm)

Jack Purtell (1921-2017), jockey, had his first ride at the age of fifteen. In 1941, aged 20, he won the Caulfield Cup. Five years later, he took out the first of the seven jockeys’ premierships that made him one of Melbourne’s most popular riders in the 1940s and 1950s. When he married in 1949, seven thousand people turned up to the church in Clifton Hill. Critically brain-injured in a fall at Caulfield in January 1953, he was back in the saddle by May and won the Melbourne Cup on Wodalla in November. The following year he won the big race for the third time, on Rising Fast. In 1956, on Fighting Force in the Hotham Handicap at Flemington, he finished in a triple dead-heat. His name is forever linked with that of Comic Court, on whom he won nineteen races, but he did not ride the stallion in the 1950 Melbourne Cup - which it won in record time. Purtell began to work in Europe in 1957, winning the Irish Oaks in 1964 and the English Oaks in 1965. By the time he retired from riding in 1966 he had ridden about 1 700 winners. He served as a VRC Stipendiary Steward for fifteen years before retiring altogether in 1981 and moving to the Gold Coast. He was inducted into the Australian Racing Hall of Fame in 2004.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of the Frith family 2013
© Estate of John Frith

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

John Frith

Jack Purtell

Subject professions

Sports and recreation

Donated by

Jeffrey Frith (4 portraits)

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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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