At just 15, Mark Reuben was the youngest-ever jockey and the following year he won the title of India’s leading apprentice.
For many years, he “lived out of a suitcase” travelling to the major racetracks of Mumbai, Calcutta, Hyderabad and Delhi, and racking up more than 1200 winners, including 20 group races and jockey premierships.
In India, horse racing is big business with grandstands and betting rings filled with high flyers and industry moguls. Reuben says it’s an atmosphere unlike any other.
“In Australia, there’s a lot of focus on attracting families, but in India it’s a place for the big gamblers to back horses and win money. All the bookmakers are on-course and the betting ring is like a fish market with the money flying around.”
After meeting his wife, a one-time Miss India Australia in 2007, Reuben moved to Australia two years later and worked to reignite his career.
“No one knew who I was, so I went far and wide to get opportunities. I was fortunate to ride trackwork for [trainer] David Hayes, including on [Melbourne Cup winner] Americain.”
His luck ran out while he was riding at Hayes’s property in country Victoria. His mount crashed through a running rail and he badly broke his leg and hip.
While still harbouring dreams of returning to the saddle, he’s now forging a new career in real estate and is ambassador for the multicultural raceday at Werribee on March 28.
Online general admission tickets are free. Gates open at 11.30am. Information: 9741 1800 or visit www.werribeeracingclub.com.au