Casino jockey wins regardless who crosses finish line first
SURVIVING a recent battle with throat cancer will give Casino-born jockey Chris Munce poetic cause for victory today when he rides Dear Demi in the Melbourne Cup.
A veteran of more than 10 Melbourne Cups, he won on Jezebeel in 1998, and is one of only seven jockeys to have won all the major Australian races including the Cox Plate, Golden Slipper and Caulfield Cup.
He also created history in 2011 when he rode 100 winners in a single season in Queensland.
But the lauded Brisbane-based jockey certainly faced a tougher challenge than his three decades of training and 3.30am wake-up calls late last year, when he was diagnosed with life-threatening throat cancer.
This led to an intensive three months of chemotherapy and radiotherapy as his doctors attempted to stop the disease in its tracks.
But like any great competitor, he took the shock in his stride, according to proud mum Gale.
"He was diagnosed and he started his treatment in January, finished it in March, and was back riding in the Winter Carnival which started in April," Mrs Munce said.
"He said all along he was going to beat it and he has: and he hasn't got time to think that he won't beat it.
"Fitness is the key for him: fitness, diet, he doesn't smoke and he's dedicated to his job and he's a competitor.
"I don't think the normal person would be able to keep up with him.
"It's called dedication, commitment, and being a true competitor," she said.
"Who wants to get out of bed at 3.30 in the morning in the rain in the middle of winter to ride a horse? And he loves it - that's dedication."
The 44-year old father of three has more to live for than just the racetrack.
"They're all hoping that their dad of course will make it even more special, but they're quite happy just to have Dad come home of a night, that's all they want," Mrs Munce said.
Today is truly the race the stops the nation given the number of bets placed.
Tabcorp, which processes 70% of Cup bets, in expecting 50 million transactions today, up to 2000 bets per second in peak periods.
Last year more than $90 million was put down on the race itself, and $180 million through the day.
As of yesterday afternoon punters were heavily favouring Gai Waterhouse-trained Fiorente, paying 7:1, with last year's winner Green Moon sitting on 26:1.