By Robyn Louw
Jeff Lloyd has completed another stellar season Down Under. He rode a record-breaking 7 winners on a Metropolitan card, broke Chris Munce’s record for Metropolitan winners in a season, broke the State record and took home his second consecutive Queensland title as well as being crowned Australian Metropolitan Premiership Jockey.
On Saturday, 14 October 2017, Jeff will write another bit of history in an already storied career, when he partners the Toby Edmonds-trained Magic Millions 2yo Classic winner, Houtzen in The TAB Everest. We catch up with ‘The Guv’.
Having book-ended last season with both the Queensland title as well as the Australian Metropolitan Premiership title, Jeff says, “I had a fantastic season from the offset. My wife asked me at the beginning of the season, after the stressful fight till the last meeting the season before if we could just relax and enjoy the season. Well, you know what my answer to that was!!!! I always wanted to prove it was no fluke and when the season started so well, I put the goal in my mind not only to win the title, but I set the target to break Chris Munce’s record – he is the only jockey to have ridden over 100 metropolitan winners in a season.”
On Wednesday, 30 November 2016, Jeff brought home 7 Metropolitan winners on the 12 race Corbould Park card, becoming the first jockey to achieve the feat in Australian history and bringing his career tally of 7 card wins to a grand total of 4. However, he singles out January’s win on Houtzen in the $2,000,000 2 year old Magic Millions Classic for his main trainer, Toby Edmonds as a special highlight. “It was such a lovely moment as it was Toby’s biggest win and the race is run at the Gold Coast track where he trains. Houtzen drew 16 out of 16 and a lot of people had written her off. There were many highlights last season, but that would be the favourite.”
On Wednesday, 5 April 2017, Jeff rewrote Australian racing history when he broke Chris Munce’s record for metropolitan winners in a season. “There was still four months of the season to go which was great as I could then just concentrate on setting the new record as high as I could. The metropolitan record was 103 and I ended the season on 137 winners,” he says with satisfaction. “I also managed to break the State record, which initially was never my intention as I don’t ride in a number of the provincial meetings.”
Jeff suffered a well-documented stroke in March 2013, followed by one of the most remarkable recoveries in racing history and there’s bad news for anyone hoping he might be planning to slow down, as Jeff says cheerfully, “My health is very good and I have never felt stronger. I am still enjoying it very much, and will continue to ride as long as I feel like this.”
Asked whether he will be chasing a third title, Jeff first says he plans to take a little more time off and not ride at as many Sunday and provincial meetings, but then admits, “My aim is to always win the title. I’m too competitive for it to ever be otherwise, but I do have a few other goals this year too, such as accepting invitations to ride elsewhere, which will obviously impact the amount of winners I can ride here in Queensland.”
When Jeff won his first Australian title in 2016, there was talk of a book about his life, but fans will have to wait a little longer, with Jeff quipping “The final chapter has not been written yet!” However, that chapter may be a long time coming as Jeff and Nicola’s eldest son Jaden intends to follows in his father’s footsteps and join the South African Jockey Academy next January. “Both my boys are very keen on becoming jockeys,” says Jeff. “With my busy schedule and Australia not having an Academy, we came to the decision that the only way we could give him the opportunity to ride more, while continuing his education, was to send him back to the Academy for a year. It has been an extremely tough decision, but he will be 16 in January and I know it will only benefit him in the long run.”
The inaugural running of The TAB Everest will be the showpiece of this year’s Sydney Spring Carnival and is scheduled over 1200m at Royal Randwick on Saturday, 14 October 2017. Are there any nerves as the big day approaches? “I feel the concept has brought a huge amount of interest into racing, both here in Australia and world-wide. The prize money is amazing with it being the richest turf race in the world – worth $10 000 000. There are 12 slots of which anyone could purchase a slot for $600 000 for 1 year. Once they purchased a slot, they could then negotiate with the connections of the horse they choose and come to an agreement with the owners on their percentage of the horse. In Houtzen’s case, Aquis Farm is a large breeding operation in Queensland. They were keen to offer their slot to a Queensland horse and chose Houtzen.”
While there is a lot of talk about current world sprint champion Chautauqua and Gai Waterhouse has expressed confidence in her charge English, prize money is being paid all the way down to 12th place and as racing fans know only too well, if you have a ticket you have a chance. Houtzen opened her 3yo campaign with a trial on 21 August. She then finished 3rd in the Gr2 McEwen Stakes on 9 September, followed by a win in the Gr3 Scarborough Stakes at Moonee Valley on 29 September. Jeff comments, “I feel my filly has progressed well from a 2 year old into a 3 year old, but obviously taking on older horses of both sexes for the first time is a big ask. She is well though and does only carry 51 kg’s.”
A natural lightweight, Jeff walks around at 53.5kgs, but has been cutting carbs and extras and is already down to 52kgs. With more than a week to go before the big race, he is confident of getting to 51kgs without having to sweat.
The final field for The TAB Everest is as follows:-
She Will Reign
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