Roy Higgins deserves – and will receive – grander tributes than what I can provide, but every Australian sports site should acknowledge the lifetime achievements and impact of “The Professor”, who passed away at the weekend.
Les Carlyon, eminently qualified, provided some background and colour with his piece, appropriately in the “little paper”, yesterday……… (http://www.heraldsun.com.au/sport/superracing/all-jockeys-can-ride-but-few-of-them-can-think-roy-higgins-had-that-rare-gift-a-race-brain-he-could-lift-a-horse/story-fnibcgg5-1226849710756
Even growing up in SA, “Higgs” was a larger than life star to me, with his feats at faraway Flemington and Caulfield crackling over the transistor, invariably via the dulcet tones of “The Accurate One”… “and here’s the winner returning to scale. Number 1 (insert name, invariably fav), ridden by R. Higgins.” Down the wire you could sense Bill’s relief as he ashed a cigar and patted a winning brief!
Higgins and Collins became the articulate face of racing in Melbourne thanks to World Of Sport exposure, crossing in to the general sporting, even societal, landscape. They were the best in the business and now there are only old tapes to commemorate those halcyon days.
Roy’s record as a jockey speaks for itself. The affection felt towards him within the”game” shouted even louder. Well after retiring from the rigours or racing and wasting, a waddling Higgins was heralded as he made his way around racecourses – good judge and good bloke.
His passing is a shock. A loss. A reminder of time’s inexorable march. For those of us at a certain age, it triggers memories of fresh faces and high hopes.
I glanced at a soundless TV bulletin on Sunday. There was Higgins riding through my childhood – Light Fingers, Leilani, Taj Rossi, Gunsynd.
Wonderful and sad. The good old days are long gone and now, too, is the irreplaceable Professor.
A memorial service is to be held in the mounting yard (they’d do worse than rename it in his honour) on Thursday morning. The hearse will then do a final circuit of the course, hopefully saving ground on the circle and finding a half-length at the clocktower. The crowds can cheer again as Higgins returns past the roses, bowing out a winner. R.I.P.