For champion jockey Damien Oliver it was a massive thrill to ride Like An Eagle to win the Hareeba Stakes at Mornington in 2012.
Capel co-trainers Ross and Clint Price took talented but injury-prone Like An Eagle to Victoria in January in search of the softer tracks and the gamble at first paid dividends
Like An Eagle won the Listed Hareeba Stakes at Mornington, before tragically snapping both forelegs in a feature race at Moonee Valley en route to the Newmarket Handicap.
Ross Price gave Oliver’s late brother Jason one of his most important wins on Medicine Kid in the 1992 Railway Stakes.
But the biggest thrill for Oliver was that Like An Eagle was part-owned by former ace jockey Rod Kemp, who he has idolised from the first day he sat on a pigskin.
“Rocket” as he was known by thousands of punters, Kemp began his apprenticeship with Jim Zinnicka, the father of trainer Kay Miller, who won the 1987 Railway Stakes with Miss Muffet and two Perth Cups with Ullyatt (1986) and Ros Reef (1995) and father-in-law to Caulfield and Melbourne cups winning jockey John Miller.
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Kemp also was a part-owner in Like An Eagle’s (Oratorio-Stormy Business) half brother Beat The Storm (Scenic), who won the Group 3 Belmont Sprint.
The Kalgoorlie born Kemp was Australia’s leading money rider in 1984-85, when riding for trainers Brian “Buster” O’Malley and Ted Hickling, winning the Perth Cup on Phizam, Railway Stakes on Eastern Temple and the Australian Derby on Importune.
He was the ninth jockey to complete the double since the inception of the two races in 1885-86.
Tragically in 1987 Kemp, 33, fell from Cheridge at a mid-week Belmont meeting and had his larynx smashed when the horse trod on his throat.
Paralysis set in from the damage to the arteries in his neck.
Kemp was left with a severe limp and has noticeable speech and other difficulties, but now in his 60s he remains one of the cheeriest people on a racetrack.
Kemp was on target on 72 city wins and 122 wins overall to break his State record of 137 1/2 wins in 1983-84.
Kemp has always been a humble man and a gentleman.
He was champion apprentice in 1971-72 with 90 wins, 72 seconds and 75 thirds.
In 1980-81 he took out his first city jockeys’ premiership on 51 wins. He also was the State’s No1 rider with 123 overall winners.
Kemp and Ian Albuino would toil for the top of the premiership ladder, until the latter secured a contract to ride in Hong Kong in 1984-85.
Kemp won four titles in succession from 1983 until 1987.
It took Paul Harvey in 1996-97 to break Kemp’s WA record riding 114 city winners and 165 winners overall.
Kemp possessed innate judgement and could lift horses with his sheer strength.
He was the ultimate professional living a life, which was 100 percent dedicated to being a jockey.
Kemp rode two Group 1 Australian Derby winners, for Hickling on Sanatate (1982) and Importune (1984) and the 1981 Group 1 WA Derby on Vortilla, for Stan Quinlivan, and Rant And Rave (1985) for O’Malley.
Importune and Rant And Rave won the Group 1 Rothwells (Kingston Town Classic) in 1984 and ’85.
He won three successive Group 1 WA Oaks on True Devotion (1984), Contwig (1985) and Cologne (1986).
Kemp rode Phizam to complete the Cox Stakes-Perth Cup double in 1984-85.
Sanatate was a remarkable galloper, bouncing back from his Australian Derby (2400m) win in 1982 to win the Railway Stakes (1600m) the following year (Peter Barnett).
Kemp was associated with two of the State’s biggest punting owners riding for Wally Hannah and Laurie Connell.
He rode Haulpak’s first outstanding galloper Haulpak’s Image to win the Cox, Strickland and Scahill stakes and the Bunbury Cup in 1983.
Kemp rode Storm Tide to win the 1983 WA Guineas, Concrete to win the 1985 Lee Steere Stakes and Corona Miss in the 1982 WA Sires for champion trainer Colin Hayes.
He won the Strickland Stakes three times on Aldric (1981), Haulpak’s Image (1983) and My Serene (1985).
He also won three Belmont Guineas on Art Roy (1983), Concrete (1985) and Executive Class (1986).
He won his hometown Boulder Cup on Whiskey Lover (1982) and the 1972 Coolgardie Cup on Royal Conquest.
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