Tom Corrigan (jockey)

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Thomas Corrigan (1851 [1] or May 1854 [2] – 14 August 1894), invariably known as "Tom" or "Tommy", was an Australian steeplechase jockey who died as a result of injuries sustained while racing.



Corrigan was born in County Meath, Ireland, and emigrated to Australia with his parents Thomas Corrigan and Bridget Corrigan née Carney in 1864. [1]

Seth Ferry reports meeting Corrigan at Casterton in 1867 when the lad was working as a butcher's boy. Much taken with the boy, the noted horse trainer gave him an injured chestnut in exchange for a basket of supplies. [3] After winning a hack steeplechase race at his home town Woodford, Victoria on his mare Juliet, he was employed to ride for trainer William Tozer of nearby Warrnambool. At the Spring meeting of the V.R.C., 1 November 1867 at Flemington, he rode Tozer's horse B.A. in the Maiden Plate, finishing second to the odds-on favourite, C. B. Fisher's Sylvia.

In 1872 he rode in the Melbourne Cup.

In 1877 he began riding for Martin Loughlin, which partnership lasted around ten years, then raced, less successfully, on his own account at Caulfield and later for G. Russell.

In the course of his career he rode 238 winners out of a total of 788 mounts, and was only 319 times unplaced, and his mounts won £38,825 in stake money. During his best season, that of 1880–81, he rode 21 winners out of a total of 39 mounts, and was only eight times unplaced. [4] Horses with whom he was notably associated include Lone Hand, Postboy, Cronstadt, Hotspur, Game, Sir Wilfred, Sailor, Left Bower, Blue Jacket, Lord Harry, Twilight, Adonis, Sussex, Kildare, Native, and Great Western. [5]

He was often compared with flats jockey Tom Hales for his integrity, skill and courage, and was similarly popular with both racegoers and the general public. During his career of 28 years he lodged remarkably few protests, and fewer still were lodged against him. A notable exception was at Flemington in 1888 when he momentarily lost control of Kangaroo, with the result that Ruby, ridden by fellow Ballarat jockey (and later a distinguished trainer) James Scobie [6] was "squeezed", and after a protest Corrigan was disqualified. [7] Though both jockeys continued to behave impeccably towards each other on the racecourse, personal relations between them were frosty for some time. [8]

He suffered severe brain injuries on Saturday 11 August 1894 during the running of the VATC Grand National Steeplechase when his horse Waiter fell. He died the following Tuesday without regaining consciousness. His funeral cortege, let by 150 trainers and jockeys on foot, was the largest seen in Melbourne to that time. Among the thousands of tributes was a wreath from his Excellency the Governor, Lord Hopetoun, for whom Corrigan was a particular favourite.

Despite career earnings of some £15,000, Corrigan died destitute, a fact Ferry attributes to speculation on the Stock Exchange and subsequent losses in the 1890s depression. Ferry contends that otherwise Corrigan would have retired and not continue pushing his luck. [3] A subscription was raised by the VATC for the benefit of his widow and family.

His death was followed two months later by that of another highly respected jumps jockey, Martin Burke (c. 1855–1894). [9] Of a similar age, both hailed from County Meath and had careers in Western Victoria, but there the similarity ended, for while Corrigan had only one previous bad fall, Burke had hardly an unbroken bone in his body.



Thomas Corrigan married Robena Jamieson (c. 1870 – 18 May 1947), [4] sister of jockey Dan Jamieson, at St. Francis' Church, Melbourne on 14 January 1891. They had three children, one after Tom's death: [11]

Their home was at Kambrook Road, Caulfield; Robena lived her last years with son Tom, junior at Addison Street, St. Kilda.[ citation needed ]

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  1. 1 2 John Ritchie, 'Corrigan, Tom (Tommy) (1851–1894)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1969, accessed online 25 July 2017.
  2. "The Caulfield Steeplechase Accident". The Argus (Melbourne) . No. 15, 016. Victoria, Australia. 14 August 1894. p. 6. Retrieved 25 July 2017 via National Library of Australia.
  3. 1 2 "Fifty Years of Racing (12)". The Daily Herald (Adelaide) . Vol. 9, no. 2552. South Australia. 25 May 1918. p. 7. Retrieved 24 July 2017 via National Library of Australia.
  4. 1 2 "Memories of Tommy Corrigan, Jockey". The Argus (Melbourne) . No. 30, 945. Victoria, Australia. 3 November 1945. p. 7 (The Argus Week-end Magazine). Retrieved 25 July 2017 via National Library of Australia.
  5. "Death of the Cross-Country Rider, T. Corrigan". The Sydney Morning Herald . No. 17, 598. New South Wales, Australia. 14 August 1894. p. 5. Retrieved 24 July 2017 via National Library of Australia.
  6. "Death of "Jim" Scobie". The Age . No. 26, 669. Victoria, Australia. 7 October 1940. p. 4. Retrieved 25 July 2017 via National Library of Australia.
  7. "The V.R.C. Autumn Meeting". The Argus (Melbourne) . No. 13, 018. Victoria, Australia. 12 March 1888. p. 5. Retrieved 25 July 2017 via National Library of Australia.
  8. "Tom Corrigan". The Australasian . Vol. LVII, no. 1481. Victoria, Australia. 18 August 1894. p. 15. Retrieved 25 July 2017 via National Library of Australia.
  9. "Another Veteran Jockey Gone". The Referee . No. 417. New South Wales, Australia. 24 October 1894. p. 5. Retrieved 25 July 2017 via National Library of Australia.
  10. "Racing Legends Honored in the 2017 Hall of Fame" . Retrieved 25 July 2017.
  11. "Sons of the late Tom Corrigan Inherited His Love of Sport". Sporting Globe . No. 885. Victoria, Australia. 24 January 1931. p. 3. Retrieved 25 July 2017 via National Library of Australia.