The late Arthur Edward ‘Scobie’ Breasley, who died in 2006 at the age of 92 after suffering a stroke, was arguably the best jockey Australia has ever produced. Born in Wagga Wagga, New South Wales, shortly before the outbreak of World War I, Breasley earned his nickname at an early age, when described by a family friend as ‘a right little Scobie’, in reference to pre-eminent Australian trainer James Scobie.
Breasley was Champion Jockey of Victoria three years running, in 1944, 1945 and 1946, before, in 1950, accepting a contract to ride for Noel Cannon, private trainer to James Voase ‘Jimmy’ Rank, chairman of what became Rank Hovis McDougall, at Druid Lodge Stables, near Salisbury. The following season Breasley won his first British Classic, the 2,000 Guineas, on King Mi, trained by Michael Beary but, dissatisfied with his treatment by Pat Rank, the wife of his employer – and an inveterate, but hardly equanimous, gambler – he returned to Australia in 1952.
He stayed long enough to win a record fifth Caulfield Cup on Peshawar, trained by Pat Quinlan, but was soon lured back to England by John Arthur ‘Lucky’ Dewar, the new senior patron at Druid Lodge Stables. In 1954, Breasley won the 1,000 Guineas on Festoon, owned by Dewar and trained by Cannon. However, at the end of the 1955 season, having turned down an offer to succeed Sir Gordon Richards as stable jockey to Sir Noel Murless, Breasley joined Richards himself, now a trainer, at Ogbourne Maizey Stables, near Marlborough Wiltshire.
In 1957, Breasley won the jockeys’ title for the first time with 173 winners, in so doing becoming the first Australian since Frank Wootton, in 1912, to be crowned Champion Jockey. He did, nevertheless, suffer the irritation of finishing behind Crepello, trained by Murless and ridden by his now stable jockey, Lester Piggott, in the 2,000 Guineas and the Derby.
Breasley finished runner-up to Doug Smith in the jockeys’ championship in 1958 and 1959, and to Piggott in 1960, before becoming Champion Jockey again in 1961, 1962 and 1963, with 171, 179 and 176 winners, respectively. His final jockeys’ title, which he won at the age of 49, was achieved at the expense of Piggott, who he beat by a score of 176-175 on the final day of the season. In 1958, Breasley won the Eclipse Stakes, the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes – and Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe – on Ballymoss and, in 1964 and 1966, the Derby, on Santa Claus and Charlottown, but was never Champion Jockey again.