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Dead Jockey Wins: Hero or Pretender?

Winning a race while not consciously participating is the sporting equivalent of selling a blank scrapbook full of famous autographs.

Frank Hayes achieved this admirable feat when he rode to victory in a horserace, dead. Pure gold, in Non-Stamp Collecting circles, or bronze if you prefer.

His 1923 victory came in the steeplechase, at Belmont Park in New York State. It was his first and only victory, and his maiden race! Still, the jury is out on whether Hayes belongs in the Non-Stamp Collecting Hall of Fame.


Had Hayes decided to pass away after two furlongs, to increase his chances of winning, then there would be no doubt about his heroics as an actively non participating winning jockey.

However, given the uncertainty surrounding the motive underpinning his death, Hayes is yet to be included in the NSC Hall of fame.

As is stated on page 456,66, 717 of the 1902 revised edition of the NSC Handbook:

'To acquire full non-collecting

status members must be 'actively'

not collecting. All indifference and

lethargy concerning hobby and sport

avoidance needs to be empirically

demonstrable in strict quadruple

blind trials under casual out of hours

laboratory conditions.'


Frank Hayes, not consciously participating.
Frank Hayes, not consciously participating.

Did Hayes win any subsequent races from the comfort of the mortuary slab? Nope.

Could he have won the Melbourne Cup or the Kentucky Derby as a non-participating cadaver, as many have done since? Possibly.


Unfortunately, Hayes went into permeant retirement following his maiden victory. I don't believe a solitary win qualifies Hayes for Non Collecting stardom. Had he only gone on to take out the trifecta, his inclusion in the NSC Hall of Fame would have been beyond question.

The sport of Competitive Absence was popular in the early 1900s, with many Non-Stamp Collectors choosing not to participate in these events. Frank Hayes may have wanted to expand Competitive Absence into the horse racing arena. If so, it is yet to catch on.

An irrelevant side note: In 1957, the English Grand National entry 'Rigor Mortis' was scratched from the race at the last minute. The name of this 800/1 rank outsider had rattled nervous bookmakers, and they bribed Race Officials to exclude the entrant.

The fifty-year-old chestnut mare, Rigor Mortis, had been cremated in a London pet cemetery four days earlier, along with the fifty-seven-year-old favourite for the following years Grand National, 'Glue Factory'.


So what do you think? Does Frank Hayes deserve inclusion in the NSC Hall of Fame? Or should we instead give this honour to his horse, Sweet Kiss of Death?


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