In a sporting landscape obsessed by numbers, statistics and data, 56-year-old jockey Jeff Lloyd is certainly defying the trend. Lloyd has ridden over 5,000 winners since first joining the South African Apprentice Academy 42 years ago and arguably is riding in the best form of his life.
In 2016 alone, the English born Lloyd was still breaking records and became the oldest jockey to ever win the Queensland Metropolitan Premiership title and in doing so, smashed the record of winning rides – punching home 118 in total. He also rode seven city winners on the one card in December at the Sunshine Coast just for good meaure.
“I’m feeling fantastic and better than I did 20 or 30 years ago,” Lloyd said this week following a winning double at The Valley last Friday night.
In a flying visit to Melbourne, Lloyd only needed two horses to achieve the two winners and did so in consecutive races. His association with star Queensland filly Houtzen continued when she took out the Group 3 Simpson Construction Scarborough Stakes (1200m) en route to the $10M Everest on October 14.
“I came down on Monday morning to work Houtzen at the track – it was probably just as important for me as it was for her,” Lloyd said laughing.
“I was surprised how quick the time was (1.10.75) because I got it so easy from the 800-400 metres and I was able to give her the easiest race possible – she certainly could have gone quicker,” expressed Lloyd.
Lloyd hadn’t ridden at The Valley since the 1990’s when he was flown over from South Africa to ride in an international race series – riding one winner.
“I got here early on Friday night too and walked the track from the 1000 metre mark. I thought if Houtzen found the rail she would be hard to beat.
“There is always a great atmosphere riding at The Valley and plenty of excitement… it truly is a great buzz,” Lloyd enthused.
Toby Edmond’s filly followed up the performance of Leon Macdonald and Andrew Gluyas smart gelding So You Too in the Strathmore Flowers Handicap.
Jumping on the plane at 7am on Saturday morning, it was back to the sunshine state and back to work where he piloted a winner on the Sunshine Coast – his 21st metropolitan win for the season.
“I’ve got a handy lead in the premiership after missing two weeks through suspension, but I’ve been invited to ride in Mauritius in November so will lose some momentum then,” said Lloyd.
Riding overseas is nothing unfamiliar to Lloyd, with his career in the saddle spanning destinations including Hong Kong, South Africa and many more around the globe. It’s been a remarkable career that almost came to a tragic halt in 2013 when he suffered a stroke, leaving him out of the saddle for 14 months and told he would never be riding again.
“It’s funny because the only extended breaks jockeys take are when we break something, so I’m lucky the body came out of the other side of it the better,” said Lloyd.
And if history is anything to go by, you’d be a brave man to write him off riding many more winners yet!