SOUTH African Jeff Lloyd received one of his biggest receptions of the season after making his premiership win official aboard Rebel Miss at Doomben on Saturday.
But it wasn’t a delirious group of owners or pocket-filled punters, it was his extended family celebrating his history-making premiership winning feat.
Wife Nicola had made a surprise trip to Doomben with sons Zac and Jaden and a big support party to congratulate the 54-year-old on his premiership win.
“Coming back I was thinking, ‘I had no idea this horse had so many owners.’ It’s a total surprise and I wasn’t expecting that,” Lloyd said.
The former South African champion jockey completed his fairytale season in fitting style when he completed a winning double on Sagaronne in the final event.
“What a way to finish off a great season,” he said.
The only downside was a nine-day suspension handed down by stewards for an infringement in Race 5.
Lloyd revealed he had thought about the premiership for a long time.
After deciding to come back to riding after a stroke in 2013, he was determined not just to be making up the numbers, given the remarkable career he had enjoyed around the world.
“I wasn’t happy thinking that was the end of my career,” he said. “I set myself a challenge to ride at the highest level again and it’s very satisfying to have achieved this.
“Fortunately I haven’t had a problem or injury, which has been great for me.
“I had a look this week to see which trainer I had ridden the most for, but there wasn’t just one. There has been about eight or nine trainers who have given me a lot of support and I am very grateful for that.”
Lloyd became the oldest jockey to win the Queensland metropolitan title and the man he deposed, Jim Byrne, was full of credit for the achievement.
“If anyone was going to beat me, I’m glad it was Jeff,” Byrne said. “I know how hard he has worked. I’m ticked off I haven’t won, but Jeff is a great guy, a gentleman and it’s well deserved.”
Nicola Lloyd described her husband as “a medical marvel” in a touching social media post.
“One would think after riding 5,000 winners and 94 Group 1s around the world you would have lost your drive and your desire, and would have been satisfied to just enjoy retirement,” she wrote.
“But that is the furthest thing from the truth because even after looking death in the face, you still push yourself, still strive for excellence … looking to keep improving yourself and always making sure you show our boys what it takes to make a champion in sport.”
– The Courier Mail.