I remember on Melbourne Cup Day last year, I was around 53 kgs and I’d just finished my last ride for the afternoon.

In that race, jockey Joe Moreira had taken a bad fall; he had been knocked unconscious and there’s a rule in Victoria where if you’re knocked unconscious, you can’t ride for at least three to four days.

Joe was being assessed by the medical staff and stewards when I was weighing back in.

I quickly remembered he was riding Thomas Hobson in the big race and realised if he was unable to be passed fit, trainer Willie Mullins would immediately be on the hunt for Joe’s replacement.

Ben Allen exclusive insight 1

Curiously, as I was being weighed in, I glanced to see what weight Thomas Hobson had been allocated for the Melbourne Cup.

52 kilos it had on the board… 52. Could this be fate I thought?

I let it be known to the stewards, that I would be happy to ride at 52 kilos to replace Joe.

They sent off to find Willie, as I could have imagined there would have been tons of others jockeys that would have put their hand up as well.

As soon as I got back in to the rooms, I quickly got my gear off and jumped in the spa and sauna and started losing the weight, just in case I got the pick up ride.

I figured that I’d be nearly at the right weight. As I was in the sauna, one of the stewards rushed over to me, telling me that Willie Mullins wanted to speak to me.

I quickly got my things and before I knew it, Willie asked me to ride Thomas Hobson. Willie was clearly under a lot of pressure to find a replacement, given the circumstances.

Ben Allen exclusive insight 1

It was more just a fluke that I happened to be very light on the day, and that I was just lucky enough that a few of the people he had asked put forward a strong recommendation towards me.

One of those being Terry Henderson, who’s an OTI and a big owner. Willie gave him a call and asked him who he thought would be an ideal replacement rider and he threw my name up.

With how everything played out that day, I was really simply quite lucky in the end.

I was pretty excited, just cause, I knew Thomas Hobson was a good ride, Joe Moreira, probably one of the world’s best jockeys, wouldn’t be coming over to Australia just to ride any old horse in the Melbourne Cup.

I had seen the horse on the racing channel, I knew he would be in for a good chance.

I was just so excited and even in the parade when you’re walking out onto the track, it’s hard to describe just how loud the crowd is – simply unreal.

As soon as you get on the horse, your nerves go straight away and when I was loading into the barriers, I was one of the last ones in – I was pretty focused and concentrating on what’s what.

I wanted to get into it but as soon as the gates open, the crowd was just deafening, probably, one of the best experiences I have ever had on the racetrack.

Being able to ride the Melbourne Cup was such an awesome feeling; especially to be able to finish 6th in it as well, given how the day played out.

Ever since then, I still try and keep my weight around 54 kilos.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 03: Jockey Ben Allen looks on during Derby Day at Flemington Racecourse on November 3, 2018 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – NOVEMBER 03: Jockey Ben Allen looks on during Derby Day at Flemington Racecourse on November 3, 2018 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

The minimum riding weight in Victoria is 54 up until Spring.

If you can keep riding around 54 kilos, for the Wednesday meets, Saturday meets in town, you tend to be able to keep getting a few more rides, and they give you a few more options each race because you know you can ride the minimum.

If you can’t ride the heavier weight, it’s a bit harder, unless you’re one of the bigger riders in town who gets the best pick and most of the good horses.

Springtime is a time when you want to be able to ride around 52 kilos, 51 kilos, just in case you have to be able to pick up a good ride in a big race where the weights are quite low.

You’re already kind of around the mark, and you don’t have to lose too much more weight.