Paul Harvey – The Pontiff
Paul Harvey is one of the best jockeys to ever grace a saddle in Australia – anyone nicknamed “The Pontiff” has to be good. While he may never have won a Melbourne or Caulfield Cup, he has a remarkable record in his home state of Western Australia where his strikerate of one winner for every 4.9 rides makes him a punter’s and trainer’s favourite. Just having Harvey in the saddle can be the difference between winning and losing racing tips.
A rising star
Born in 1970 in WA, Harvey began riding from an early age. He became an apprentice jockey at the age of 16 under his uncle Bob Harvey but his start in the saddle was nothing exceptional. He rode just two winners in the 1986-87 season in Perth and mustered just eight city winners in his first three seasons. A softly spoken jockey, Harvey continue to ply his trade in the city and at regional races and he began to pick up more lucrative rides as his obvious talent began to shine through. By the time the 1996-97 season ended, Harvey had amassed 114 city winners, breaking the record set by Rod Kemp for the most city winners. He also recorded the most wins by an Australian jockey that season, saluting the judge on 165 occasions.
By the late 1990s, punters had given Harvey the nickname “The Pontiff” because of his success. He was hot and punters were keen to see him riding their latest and greatest horse racing tips. In 1998 he tasted his first major successes with victories in the Railway Stakes, Goodwood Handicap and WATC Derby. It was just the beginning as he went on to win almost every major WA race, including the Kingston Town Classic four times (2000, 2001, 2004 and 2007), the Railway Stakes twice more in 2001 and 2004, and he added another WATC Derby to his collection in 2005. Other noteable WA wins include the WA Guineas (2007), Belmont Sprint (2009), W.A. Sires’ Produce Stakes (2009), the Pinjarra Cup (2209) and the Supremacy Stakes (2009).
Go east young man
Although based in WA, Harvey was enticed by the big eastern states races. He proved that he was no one-trick pony and showed the rest of Australia his abundant talents during several assaults on the eastern seaboard. There have been a host of Group 1 victories including the VRC Derby on board Plastered, the SA Oaks on Irish Darling and he also guided Spectrum to victory in the Goodwood Handicap. In 2009, one of his best ever seasons with 14 Group 1 wins (including four in the eastern states and two at Flemington), he broke his leg in a fall during track work and was forced to miss the prestigious Magic Millions carnival. It also kept him out of the Ascot carnival in Perth.
An enviable record
Harvey has been a dominant force in WA racing for many years. He has 12 jockey premierships to his name and is still riding. Overall he has had more than 1600 starts – and phenomenal number – for more than 400 wins and 450 placings.