• Frank Reys wins 1973 Melbourne Cup (National Library of Australia)Source: National Library of Australia
Forty-two years ago, Djiribul-Filipino man Frank Reys became the first Indigenous man to win the Melbourne Cup.
By
NITV

3 Nov 2015 - 1:06 PM  UPDATED 3 Nov 2015 - 1:57 PM

Frank Reys' family continue to celebrate his achievement after he passed away in 1984. Mr Reys' daughter Shelley Reys AO said via Twitter that she considered the Melbourne Cup to be her "Christmas".

The 1973 Melbourne Cup was just one of Frank Reys' 1,329 winning races that he competed in around the nation, but it was one to remember.

The race was moving smoothly for Mr Reys and his horse, Gala Supreme. But at the final turn, two riders overtook them from a strategic position in 7th berth.

His family's hopes were dashed in those adrenaline-filled seconds, his brother Fred Reys told the Cairns Post.

But moments later the jockey and horse made an unexpected comeback.

"This is such a wonderful day. I kept picking myself off the ground and hoping I would win a Melbourne Cup"

"All of a sudden a horse breaks from the pack and, would you believe it, it was Frank, down like a demon," Fred Reys said.

Frank Reys was ecstatic about his and Gala Supreme's 3:19.50 triumph. "I thank my God, my prayers and my family for their encouragement," he said in his victory speech.

"This is such a wonderful day. I kept picking myself off the ground and hoping I would win a Melbourne Cup. It's something every Australian jockey dreams about. I still can’t believe it." 

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Mr Reys was born in 1931 and grew up in the Atherton Tablelands, part of the Great Dividing Range in Queensland, before he relocated to Melbourne, Victoria, where he went on to become a jockey, gaining his riding licence in 1953. 

Other accolades to his name include the Oaks and two times the Oakleigh Plate, the Lightning Stakes and the William Reid Stakes.