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My Life with Bart

As a jockey, Joe Agresta only had 15 rides. Although he was a self-described ‘terrible jockey’, he loved horses and felt he had plenty left to offer the racing industry. In 1980 he started working for Bart Cummings. There have not been many horsemen with the talent of Bart Cummings. Joe worked at his stable for 34 years and witnessed the master at work. His job was to ride Bart’s horses in work, follow his or his foreman’s instructions, and report back on how they were handling. Occasionally he was asked for his two cents worth; sometimes he gave his opinion for free. But he must have done something right, because he outlasted just about everyone else who ever worked for Bart. This is his story. Trackrider is a glimpse behind the stable door, full of Joe’s stories of the day to day life of a trackrider, as well as the lessons Joe learned from Bart and his fellow riders, including Roy Higgins, Harry White and Robert (Bob) Ball. Charting the ups and downs of three decades in racing with Bart, from being broke to winning Melbourne Cups, Trackrider is an ode to one of the sport’s most enduring partnerships and is an intimate look at Joe’s career and his life with one of horse racing’s greats.

Born in Griffith, New South Wales, the former quarter horse jockey and father of three left school at 15 before eventually finding his spiritual and professional home at internationally-renowned Flemington Racecourse, in Victoria. Joe Agresta is a legend in the racing industry in Australia through his long association with the ‘Cups King’ Bart Cummings. Joe became an integral part of Bart’s team riding five of his Melbourne Cup winners in their preparations; Let’s Elope, Kingston Rule, Saintly, Viewed and Rogan Josh. His deep knowledge of the way they worked, how they felt, and their general demeanour played a big role in how Bart placed those horses and led to their success. Joe’s efforts in the racing industry, not only as a track work rider, but as an ambassador for the sport, has resulted in him winning the prestigious 1918 ‘Thoroughbred Excellence Award’ sponsored by Godolphin. He has also been honoured by the Victoria Racing Club as one of its current Melbourne Cup ambassadors.

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