William David “Bill” Skelton was born in 1931, and died on November 25, 2016.
He was a New Zealand jockey.
He was a top jockey in New Zealand racing Thoroughbred horses.
Bill competed from the 1940s for four decades.
He also rode in Australia, South Africa, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong.
Skelton started as an apprentice jockey at just aged 13 and rode his first winner (a dead heat) at aged 15 at Wingatui.
Bill Skelton was the champion jockey seven times and was outside the top four of the premiership between 1947 and 1979 only four times.
Skelton rode a record 124 winners in the 1967–68 season, and in May 1980 became the first New Zealand jockey to ride 2000 winners; he finished with 2179.
Skelton remains the most successful jockey of the 20th century in New Zealand with those figures.
Bill claimed that the best horse he rode was Daryl’s Joy, champion New Zealand two-year-old in 1968, champion three-year-old in Australia in 1969, and later successful in the United States.
He won both the W S Cox Plate and the Victoria Derby on Daryl’s Joy in Australia.
His big two mile victories in New Zealand included the Auckland Cup on Lucky Son, which he also trained; his father-in-law Fred Pratt’s mare Foglia D’Oro in the New Zealand Cup and Loofah in the Wellington Cup.
He was inducted into the New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame in 1990, and to the New Zealand Racing Hall of Fame in 2006.
Bill’s brother Bob Skelton was also a successful jockey as were his other brothers, Frank, Max, and Errol, although Errol gained fame as a top trainer for many years.
His son David also rode in both New Zealand and Australia.
Bill Skelton passed away at 85 years old.