A - Z of New Zealand greats - Noel Harris
A true legend of the New Zealand turf, Noel Harris not only enjoyed one of the longest careers of any New Zealand jockey but one of the most successful too.
Noel, or 'Harry' as he is known as by many, began his career at Hawkes Bay Racing in February 1970. Noel rode his final race 45 years later, in the Gr.1 NZ Thoroughbred Breeders Stakes, at the age of 60.
From a family of racing enthusiasts, a career as a jockey was an obvious choice for Harris. At 15-years old, he left school to take out an apprenticeship with his father Jock. Success quickly followed, with Noel taking out the 1971/72 apprentice jockeys' premiership at 18-years-old before sharing the national jockeys' premiership with David Peake the following year. Noel was also quick to notch up his first Group 1 winner at Trentham Racecourse in 1972, the first of 45 for the veteran jockey.
Foreign shores beckoned and Harris headed to Singapore where he rode successfully for three years. In his final year, Noel picked up a third premiership victory when taking out the leading Singapore jockey title.
During his time in the saddle, Noel claimed many 'bucket-list' races including the Cox Plate, VRC Oaks and Sydney Cup. He also sat on the back of many great horses, but Noel has regarded three as being his standouts - the 2000 Guineas winner Kingdom Bay, Cox Plate victor Poetic Prince and the three time Wellington Cup winner, Castletown.
Having kicked home 2163 raceday wins, Noel is among a select few New Zealand jockeys to join the 2000 club. In 2018, Noel was deservingly inducted into the New Zealand Racing Hall of Fame.