Everyone has their own special thoughts of former champion jockey Stathi Katsidis and those memories will be revived when Toowoomba Turf Club honours him at Clifford Park on Saturday night.
Family, friends, supporters, former colleagues and the racing public will remember Stathi’s silky riding skills and warm personality when the club hosts the running of the inaugural Selected Seeds Stathi Katsidis Handicap.
Stathi’s life and reign as one of Australia’s leading jockeys was cut tragically short when he died suddenly in 2010 aged 31 years.
The St Mary’s College student emerged as an apprentice from the Toowoomba stables of trainer Graham Banks to ride 1183 winners, including six Group One victories and three Brisbane jockey premierships.
But despite his success at the highest racing level, Stathi rated his extraordinary effort to ride the winners of five Weetwood Handicaps on his former Toowoomba home track amongst his most memorable racing moments.
Stathi was successful in the Weetwood aboard Vacen Lee (2000), Startell (2001), Devil (2004) and Tellem (2005, 2007).
Tellem’s Toowoomba trainer Kevin Kemp – a four-time Weetwood winner – enjoyed a lengthy winning partnership with Stathi.
“Stathi was just a great rider and even better bloke,” Kevin said.
“He had beautiful hands and a great affinity with horses.
“He was born to ride and was always so willing and helpful.
“It is such a shame we lost him when we did.
“He had so much ahead of him.”
Ground-breaking Toowoomba jockey Skye Bogenhuber is a long-time admirer of Stathi who she acknowledges with her own tribute after riding alongside him in her apprenticeship days.
“I wear white riding gloves which is my way of remembering Stathi,” Skye said.
“He always wore white gloves and I idolised him.
“Stathi always took his horse up the straight before the race, turned and let them get their bearings before giving them a pat.
“I’ve done that on most of mine since I used to watch him do it.
“I wanted to be just like Stathi.
“I was privileged to ride alongside him for a brief time.
“He was always so helpful and respectful when I asked him advice about riding and races.”
A statue of Stathi was unveiled at Clifford Park by family and supporters following his passing to honour his brilliant career.
By Glen McCullough