Flemington honours Patterson family with Patterson Avenue

31 October 2023 Written by VRC

The Victoria Racing Club (VRC) will officially recognise one of racing’s most well known racing families at Flemington Racecourse with the horse walk from the iconic winning post to the famous Flemington arch to be named Patterson Avenue in recognition of longtime clerks of the course, the Pattersons.

Beginning in 1969 with John “Patto” Patterson OAM and Rain Lover, a member of the Patterson family has led in every Lexus Melbourne Cup winner bar one (1977), due to John being sidelined with a knee injury.

This year marks the 10-year anniversary since John led in his 44th and final Cup winner, the Gai Waterhouse OAM-trained Fiorente with Damien Oliver aboard, before handing over the reins to his sons Shane and Peter who have continued the family tradition as Clerks of the Course.

The Patterson family are synonymous for leading the Lexus Melbourne Cup-winning jockey and horse back to scale in front of tens of thousands of excited racegoers, with some of racing's most memorable photographs captured on the iconic horse walk.

John’s connection with the ‘race that stops a nation™’ goes beyond his racetrack role, having educated and trained 1973 Melbourne Cup winner Gala Supreme as a young horse.

His horsemanship skills have been passed on to the next generation through his mentorship of upcoming jockeys and trackwork riders.

A participant and judge at the Royal Melbourne Show, he has committed his life to horses of all equestrian disciplines and breeds.

The 85-year-old has retrained retired thoroughbreds, designed horse bits and has been a leader in the field of horsemanship for decades.

VRC Chairman Neil Wilson said that the Patterson family has an incredible bond with the Lexus Melbourne Cup and Flemington Racecourse, and it was a fitting tribute to their contribution to the club and racing industry.

“The Patterson family are some of the unsung heroes of Lexus Melbourne Cup Day and play such an important role not only during the Melbourne Cup Carnival but on all Flemington race days,” Mr Wilson said.

“It is only fitting that their collective contribution of over 50 years is acknowledged in the naming of Patterson Avenue at Flemington Racecourse.”

John “Patto” Patterson, who lives a stone-throw from Headquarters, said the family were delighted with the recognition.

“My family and I love horses and we have enjoyed working, mostly behind the scenes, at Flemington for decades,” Mr Patterson said.

“We are proud of our connection to the Victoria Racing Club and especially Australia’s most famous race, the Lexus Melbourne Cup.

Peter and Shane Patterson walking Patterson Avenue.

“It’s a privilege to have this avenue named after my family. Some of our fondest memories are of leading winners back to excited connections and racing fans here so it’s lovely to be recognised.”

Shane’s daughter Ellen and son Matty are avid riders and are both dreaming of one day becoming the third generation of Pattersons to lead home the winner of the Lexus Melbourne Cup.

A clerk of the course is a safety net for horses and jockeys on racedays, always present to lend a helping hand whether they are on the way to the start of a race, during a race or pulling up after a race as they return to the Mounting Yard.  

The 2023 Melbourne Cup Carnival begins on Saturday 4 November with Penfolds Victoria Derby Day, followed by Lexus Melbourne Cup Day on Tuesday 7 November, Kennedy Oaks Day on Thursday 9 November, and concludes with TAB Champions Stakes Day on Saturday 11 November. For more information and to purchase tickets visit