Neville Sellwood: Australian Jockey
His prowess on the tracks brought him international fame, riding for the Aga Khan's stables in France
The ability to judge pace and tactics in distance races made jockey Neville Sellwood one of the most successful Australian riders.
Neville Sellwood was a much sought after jockey in the USA and Britain as well. An unfortunate accident on the tracks ended Sellwood's career, one which would probably have been unmatched today.
Despite family pressures to take up law as a profession, Neville Sellwood chose to become a jockey. Born in Hamilton, Brisbane, on 2nd of December 1922, his family feared the physical dangers of horse-racing as a career.
In addition, a poor academic performance at school hindered his chances of becoming a solicitor. Brief employment at a pharmacy was followed by an apprenticeship under horse trainer Jim Shean in Brisbane in 1938.
Neville Sellwood was probably destined to become a great jockey. After saddling his first horse at the Bundamba racecourse in Ipswich in 1938, Neville Sellwood won his first race at Doomben on 11 March 1939, on Ourimbah.
Military service followed, however, Sellwood managed to convince his commanding officer to allow him to accept mounts at local meetings.
At Townsville, he won the jockeys' premiership for three years in succession with an impressive record of 140 wins from 290 starts, which marked the beginning of a glorious career on the race tracks.
After being discharged from the army in May 1946, Neville Sellwood joined Sydney trainer Maurice McCarten in what was to become a formidable partnership over the years in which he won the heart of owner Sir Adolph Basser who gifted him a Rolls Royce. Delta was his first lucky horse with three major victories in the 1949 VRC Derby and W. S, Cox Plate, followed by a convincing win in the 1951 Melbourne Cup.
In between, Neville Sellwood set the tracks ablaze in Britain and the United States of America in 1950, where he won several races and soon became one of the most sought after and successful jockeys overseas. He also won his first Caulfield Cup back home in 1950.
Back home in Australia, Neville Sellwood continued his winning spree in 1951 with another Caulfield Cup, and the AJC Metropolitan among his major triumphs. He won two more VRC Derbys in 1959 and 1960, two AJC Epsom Handicaps in 1956 and 1959, another AJC Metropolitan in 1958 and the 1959 Queensland Derby.
In spite of a steward's inquiry in the 1955 Melbourne Cup, Neville Sellwood brought trainer Tommy Smith the Cup astride Toparoa. Objections were raised by the connections of Rising Fast, where Sellwood was suspended for causing interference; however, the decision finally went in his favour.
Among Neville Sellwood's favourite mounts were Tulloch with 12 wins and Todman with 10 victories including the 1957 Golden Slipper Stakes.
Neville Sellwood was as successful overseas as he was in Australia. His initial trip to USA and Britain in 1950 led to many successful mounts over the years. His most memorable ride in England was in the 1962 Derby astride Larkspur, a year in which he also became the leading jockey in France, winning the premiership with 102 winners.
Tragically, the same year, Neville Sellwood's life was cut short after his mount Lucky Seven slipped and fell on a wet track at the Maison Laffite racetracks near Paris. Sellwood left behind his wife and three children.
The racing fraternity will never forget the stylish 'Nifty Neville', more for his dominance of racetracks around the world.