Joe Mercer is, to many people of a certain vintage, the face of British racing. Known for his wonderful personality and a trophy cabinet that puts many of his contemporaries to shame, Joe Mercer is a true legend of the sport. Active for close to 40 years, he took over 2,800 horses to the win, which has only been topped by a small selection of other legends such as Frankie Dettori.
With wins from the 50s right through to the 80s, Mercer lifted everything from the Epsom Oaks to the Irish 2,000 Guineas and even the Prix de Diane in 1974. As the British Flat Racing Champion Apprentice in both 1952 and 1953, it’s safe to say that the enigmatic Mercer more than lived up to the early hype.
With a career that is too hard to sum up in mere words, the success of Joe Mercer can be examined in his reverence throughout the sport. Having worked in the sport until 2006 as both a jockey manager and then a race manager for Gainsborough, as well, he made a massive impact both in and out of the saddle.
Happily, Mercer bowed out of the sport with a win on the last day of the 1985 season, when Michael Hills graciously stepped aside for him to take Comme l’Etoile over the finish line one more time. In typical Mercer style, he hopped on the unfancied Bold Rex for the Manchester November Handicap – taking it to one more victory as a stellar career.
A fitting end to a truly legendary career – and one that should serve as inspiration to any young and aspiring jockeys.
Achievements & Highlights
Major Wins – Epsom Oaks (1953), St. Leger Stakes (1965, 1974, 1980, 1981), 2,000 Guineas Stakes (1971), 1,000 Guineas Stakes (1974, 1979), Irish 2,000 Guineas (1973), Irish Derby (1959), Irish St Leger (1965), Prix de Diane (1974).
Associations – Brigadier Gerard, Highclere, Bustino, Kris, Le Moss.
Earnings – ?