New names are about to earn a place in Toowoomba Cup history. They will be the next winners added to a famous Queensland racing list which has sadly lost one of its legendary names.

Jack Ross – who dominated Toowoomba racing as one of Queensland’s leading jockeys during a 30-year career – died earlier this month aged 93 years.

“Gentleman Jack”, as he was affectionately known, was farewelled this week by family, friends and former colleagues, fittingly during Toowoomba Cup week, a race Jack won four times.

Jack was born in 1930 in Sydney where he kicked off his riding days, apprenticed to Fred Russell at Randwick. He was a natural sportsman who excelled at boxing, tennis and cricket. He also represented NSW in schoolboys rugby league.

Jack relocated to the Northern Rivers of New South Wales where he achieved the rare feat of winning both the apprentice’s and jockey’s premierships in the same year. He won three premierships in the region.

Jack eventually decided to base himself in Brisbane, but on his way to Queensland a quirk of fate led him to Toowoomba for a “brief” stopover. During his visit he picked up two Clifford Park rides which both won and Jack never left Toowoomba.

The rest is history.

Jack rode 1800 career winners, including 600 at Clifford Park in a golden era of Toowoomba jockeys including Ben Tebb, Sid Curran, Norm Wilson and Cliff Barnes. He won 13 premierships with a record nine of those in succession. In one amazing Brisbane riding sequence he rode 18 winners from 22 rides.

Jack won his first Toowoomba Cup in 1961 aboard Nukeha. After the 1962 cup was washed out he scored in 1963 on Kandavu before completing a cup hat-trick in 1964 on Brother Mac. Jack completed his fourth win on Barrylyn’s Idol in 1972.

But success in Toowoomba’s time-honoured Weetwood Handicap famously eluded Jack.

Jack retired from riding at 48 years of age after suffering serious injuries in a Clifford Park race fall. Following his retirement as a jockey, Jack worked for 15 years as a Darling Downs stipendiary steward.

During a 1996 interview with Chronicle racing writer Ged Cosgrove, Jack declared Ben Tebb as “easily” the best jockey he rode against at Clifford Park. He named Big Spree, trained by Norm Higgins at Clifford Park, as the best horse he rode.

Jack was predeceased by his wife Joan. His large surviving family includes eight grandchildren and four great grandchildren.

Jack’s son Allan is a former prominent Clifford Park trainer while his grand-daughter Alyssa is a successful Toowoomba co-trainer with her partner Troy Sweeney.

By Glen McCullough