DAVID CROSSLAND ruled the north for more than a decade. The six million dollar kid set records that are virtually set in concrete. He rode 858 winners and 1100 placings from 3700 rides in just 11 seasons. A phenomenal record.
He walked away in 2012 after six years of starving himself to ride under 58kg. Today he is a fit, happy and healthy 78kg working in the LNP gas industry at Gladstone.
He said in an interview with Silks and Saddles three years ago that he had “reached the end of his tether”.
“’It just got too hard” said the jock whose mounts won prize money nudging $6million. All but eight of those were on country tracks like Laura, Cooktown, Normanton, Mt Isa, Mt Garnet and all the little circuits in between - and he remembers every single one of them.
His favourite track was Cluden however where he had a 23 per cent strike rate - 378 winners and 447 placings from 1640 rides. Not many riders in the country have better stats than that. Suffice to say, not many riders in the country were better than him either.
And on his infrequent visits to the big smoke he landed six winners at Eagle Farm and three at Doomben.
But he always a country boy and resisted several offers to relocate to Brisbane
Today he says he is happy in his new world far from the glamour of the track.
Yes, he does miss the racetrack and the people but is realistic in his outlook.
“I will never go back riding even though deep down I suppose I would love to.”
David was first apprenticed to his father Warren Crossland on the Atherton Tablelands and had his first ride as a 15 year old schoolboy.
“It took me a couple of years before the penny dropped. I was just a raw kid,” he says.
But when the penny did drop it made an impact that will be everlasting in the annals of North Queensland racing.
His first winner, at 17, was a maiden at Mareeba on the unlikely named Near the Creek for trainer Alwyn (Bones) Bailey.
It was in the same year his dad died and his indentures were transferred to his mother Terry, herself of highly competent horsewoman and trainer of many winners in the north.
Soon after he joined Roy Chillemi and, as they say, the rest is history - a star was born.
At the time of his retirement David had hoped to set up a training camp to teach “the young bush blokes how to ride in races”.
“The bush is full of kids who would love to be jockeys but don’t get the chance and I wanted to show them how.
“”There is a stack of talent going to waste.
“There are no kids coming through. When I was an apprentice there was always half a dozen or so around the tracks. Now there are none.”
Racing Queensland (and the kids) lost a golden opportunity there.
The day he swapped his whip for a fishing rod, Roy Chillemi lost the “best horse in his stable”.
They were an awesome combination.
Crossland had an amazing 30pc strike rate for the stable with 375 winners and 365 placings from 1263 rides and they won $2.7m in prize money.
He also rode with great success (128 winners) for his mum, Terry who also retired.
While he rates the Michael Lee trained Regal Punch as the best horse he rode, his best results (most wins) were Telling Blow (11 wins), River Hunter and Chicago Slip, trained by his mother. He won 10 races on each of them.
In fact he was on Chicago Clip in all of that geldings career wins which included five straight at Cairns and Townsville between November and December 2001.
On Regal Punch he won nine races including the Townsville Amateur Cup and the Cairns Cup.
All up Crossland won three Cairns Cups - plus the Parry Nissan on Hotelier for the all-conquering Chillemi-Hedley team.
He won six NQ premierships and was also voted non-SEQ Provincial and Country Jockey of the Year six out of the seven seasons it was conducted.
But it was not only in racing that Crossland was a star. At one stage he was being hailed an Olympic boxing prospect but stuck to racing after 25 bouts for 23 wins and a couple of state championships.
That doesn’t include the untold “unofficial bouts”- that will remain untold!
Suffice to he always defended himself and his mates. And it didn’t matter who- and it didn’t matter where.
David Crossland is just 33 this year. It is an absolute tragedy that he is lost to the riding profession at such an age which should have him be at the height of his career.
It is an even greater tragedy he has been lost to the racing industry.
He had much to offer.
Still does, really.