World renowned South African jockey taking on Oz!
by Liesel Rennie
The biggest achievement for me was winning 6 races including all 3 Grade One races on J&B Met day in Jan 2007, which is a world record.
Images courtesy of www.racingandsports.com.au
Jeff Lloyd, one of the worlds best jockeys, has decided to call Sydney home. Arriving in Australia in November 2007, Jeff told Sabona Magazine, that like many other South African ex-pats, concern for his familys safely and future were the overriding reasons for their move to Australia.
Lets face it, we all love South Africa it is just sad we dont have faith in the country to bring our children up there.
Jeff, his wife Nicola and their three children Tayah, Jaden and Zac holidayed in Australia early last year, with the view to immigrating. Although Nicola fell in love with the Gold Coast first and foremost, career wise the family had to locate in either Sydney or Melbourne.
Jeff explains I felt at the time there was a gap in the jockey market in Sydney. That has changed since and now Sydney is extremely competitive.
Originally from Durban, Jeff says they also chose Sydney because It was the most like back home, the racing is exciting and the lifestyle is very alike what we enjoy.
The Lloyd family has travelled to Mauritius, Hong Kong and Singapore, following Jeffs 33 year long jockey career. Well used to a travelling lifestyle, the move to Australia has been relatively easy and the family have settled in quickly.
Just living in a first world country is so great. To get anything organised is quick and easy. For my wife this has shocked her so much, Jeff comments.
Recognised among the worlds best jockeys and the winner of more than 4000 races worldwide, Jeff was surprisingly a relative unknown in Australian racing. He has ridden more than 4200 race winners, including 84 at Group One level, and won 11 jockey premierships in South Africa and Mauritius.
His riding record is superior to any other jockey currently competing in Australia and this champion has wasted no time getting into the swing of things in his new home in Sydney. Jeff rides 4 to 5 times a week at Rosehill, Randwick and Warrick Farm depending on where my upcoming rides will be working.
He describes the training tracks as being less heavy than in South Africa and here you work much longer distances in the morning. In SA It is much quicker work working on horses speed. He also adds that the jockeys have different styles to those back home, but they are all competitive no matter which way you ride and I must say the jockeys here are a lot taller!
Jeff, who has previously ridden successfully in Germany, England, Hong Kong and Singapore, has taken Sydney racing by storm, recently riding in the well known Golden Slipper event. He said it was great to get a ride in this prestigious race during my first Carnival in Sydney. Jeff is currently sitting third on the premiership.
I have enjoyed the new challenge, I am always one to set goals and enjoy achieving them. The competition is tough and I have to be at my best at every meeting, I like racing that way.
I dont think it is easy for any jockey to come over to a new country and establish themselves. I believe SA jockeys have proved they are world class riders, but it is all about hard work, selling your product and determination, Jeff said.
This A grade jockey is only just getting warmed up. He has hit the ground running and he says as long as I am at my best and competing well, I would like to ride for as long as possible. His goal is to finish in the top 5 in Sydney and to ride as many group race winners as he can.
As far as his family is concerned, Jeff wants to offer them a safe and happy life in their new country and this new journey they have embarked on. We are South African by blood but my children are sporting the start of Aussie accents. My little one is sporting the start of the
Aussie jockey style too, so all in all it is about them and their future here as Australians.
Jeffs Career highlights:
Winner of a Grade one race at the AJC Derby
Winning 6 SA jockey Premierships
Winning a grade one race in Singapore
Winning 5 J&B Metropolitans
Holding the record for the most winners ridden by any jockey in Mauritius as well as the most winners ridden by any jockey in one season Winning 7 races in a race meet on 3 occasions