Ben Thompson’s father has three Melbourne Cup wins to his name.
On Tuesday, the apprentice jockey gets his first taste of a Melbourne Cup of a different kind when he rides in Australia’s most famous horse race.
The 19-year-old is the son of leading greyhound trainer Jason Thompson whose success includes three Melbourne Cups for greyhounds.
“He’s won three Melbourne Cups and I handled one. You could say I strapped a Melbourne Cup winner for him in 2012 (Got A Moment),” Ben Thompson said.
“After he’d won his third he said ‘all you have to do is ride one’. So I’m riding in my first Melbourne Cup tomorrow and hopefully shortly I’m talking about riding my first winner.
“It’s overwhelming, and just for the whole family, they’re sitting on the edge of their seat and can’t wait for tomorrow as well.”
Thompson’s chances on Tuesday seem remote as he will be aboard the outsider of the field, Rose Of Virginia.
But Thompson has faith the Auckland Cup runner-up can run a good race on Tuesday, and he can’t wait to experience the event so early in his career.
Thompson, the only apprentice in this year’s race, has been riding in races for 2-1/2 years and only been competing in the city for less than a year.
“I’m still pinching myself,” he said.
His first Melbourne Cup ride follows his first Caulfield Cup ride a couple of weeks ago when he finished ninth on De Little Engine.
Thompson soaked up the atmosphere at Monday’s Melbourne Cup parade through the city ahead of his first visit to Flemington on Cup day.
“It’s pretty overwhelming really. It’s very surreal,” he said.
“You know there’s obviously a lot of charm that goes with the race, but to see it first hand, it’s just unreal.
“Hopefully this is just the first of many. But I’ll well and truly have the head down to be here this day every year.”
Thompson, who is apprenticed to Allan Williams, the father of top jockey Craig Williams, didn’t ride anywhere on Cup day last year as he was preparing to travel to Abu Dhabi for an apprentices’ invitation race.
“The year before I rode at Bairnsdale. I’d say the crowd will be a bit different at Flemington than it will be in Gippsland. I can’t wait.”