There’s no hotter jockey in the country than Blake Shinn, given his seven winners over the last two Saturday’s, at Caulfield and Flemington, coupled with a handful of placings too.
His treble on Saturday at racing’s headquarters has given him a three win lead in the Victoria Metro Jockey Premiership, and at the age of 35 he has never ridden better.
Shinn cut his teeth in country Victoria under Lee Hope, and went from his first ride at 15 to winning his first Group 1 as a 17yo just on two years later – that was on Demerger in the Adelaide Cup 2006, which was the second last running before it was downgraded to Group 2 status.
Shinn quickly established himself as one of the most promising young jockeys in Australia, winning the Scobie Breasley Medal while still an apprentice before being poached out of the Melbourne jockey ranks and lured up to Sydney by Gai Waterhouse.
Riding in Sydney helped establish him with other Sydney-based trainers, and after winning the Sydney jockey premiership in the 2007-08 season, in 2008 he rode Viewed to victory in the Melbourne Cup for Bart Cummings. Shinn has always been renowned as an aggressive rider, leading to many suspensions over the years, but on this day Viewed needed every bit of vigour to record the narrowest winning margin in the long and storied history of Australia’s greatest race.
Shinn continued to have success in the years that followed, winning numerous Group 1 races including the Golden Slipper on Capitalist in 2016.
In 2019, Shinn moved to Hong Kong to try his hand outside the Australian racing scene. He quickly became one of the leading jockeys in Hong Kong, winning Group 1s including the Hong Kong Gold Cup, Hong Kong Classic Mile, and the Champions and Chater Cup.
Shinn returned to Australia in August 2022, resuming his racing career in Melbourne, and he has continued to be one of the most successful jockeys in the country.
Every successful jockey has to deal with the lows as well as the highs, and Shinn has had two key incidents at the other end of the spectrum.
The first was a betting scandal that saw him suspended for 15 months in 2011, after betting around half a million dollars over a two year period, including on horses he was riding against.
The second was a career-threatening neck injury that was suffered in a barrier trial in August 2018, causing him to have five months off before courageously returning to the saddle.
Many jockeys have returned more mature people and riders after a betting suspension, including Damien Oliver and James McDonald, and injury is certainly part of the job description in one of the most dangerous sporting occupations in the world.
Shinn is known for his natural ability on a horse, his cool head in a race, and ability to make quick decisions in a tight spot. Especially when displaying the form that he has this season, he must be considered to be one of the best jockeys in the world, and is sure to continue to have success in the years to come.
While Shinn isn’t aligned to a particular stable, he consistently gets rides for Maher/Eustace, James Cummings, the Hayes brothers, Danny O’Brien, Chris Waller, Price/Kent Jr and many others. While he continues his form, there won’t be any shortage, and while he didn’t add to his Group 1 tally this season, it surely won’t be long before he does again.