THE JONATHAN QUAYLE HIGGINS COLUMN
Another exciting chapter starts for the talented Lloyd family
THEIR legendary dad rode 5,500 winners and bagged premierships in three countries, including four successive Queensland titles in his late 50s, so one would expect some pressure on Jeff Lloyd’s teenage sons, Jaden and Zac, who have both chosen the career that made ‘The Guv’ world famous.
So far, the Lloyd brothers have taken to their tasks with quite remarkable zeal and sportsmanship. The Aussies call them ‘Sons of a Gun!’ and both apprentices are already competing for top honours on the logs in respective premierships.
At this writing Jaden (19), had ridden 101 winners from 813 mounts – that’s a winning strike rate of 12% for gross stake earnings approaching AU$2,5million. He rides in the highly competitive Queensland Metro Premiership – where his 40-year-older dad ruled for the latter part of the last decade.
Jaden has just ridden his seventh ‘Metro’ winner. He is disputing the lead on this Premiership log with James Orman, and rides alongside his dad’s formidable old rival colleagues like Larry Cassidy and Robbie Fradd, who are in the early mix for the season that started on 1 August.
Zac (18) rides in the Queensland Provincial Premiership, where he has racked up 52 winners from 352 rides in no time at all. His winning strike rate is presently 15% and he’s banked a gross $949,000 in gross stakes winnings.
With both popular lads clearly on the road to stardom, already not short of a dollar and highly competitive, Mom Nicola must be having her hands full, but she told the IRC yesterday that the Lloyd family is taking everything in their stride. Winning races is in their DNA, and a future with the pair fighting it out at the top of the National Log is not inconceivable.
Let us not confuse their talent and early success with any kind of arrogance, however. Both Jaden and Zack are humble, always in respect of their opposition, and committed to taking things step by step. Jeff, who launched ‘Lloyd Racing Management Services’ for jockey coaching following his retirement in 2019, helps both his sons with their race riding skills (man, could they ask for more?), and supports both with equal pride and commitment.
There is a Twitter photo of Jeff carrying Jaden’s kit to their car after a race meeting doing its rounds – they were indeed on their way from one track to another race meeting when the photo was snapped – and it showed how Jeff, tireless in his own riding career, is not letting retirement get in the way of a hard day’s work!
Nicola told: “Jeff still rides work six days a week. He has some shares in horses trained by Jaden’s boss, Maryann Brosnan, so he loves going in and working them at her Gold Coast base.”
The Lloyd boys have ridden against each other in a race – they once finished 1st and 2nd with Jaden winning, and 2nd and 3rd respectively on another occasion. They both still live under parents’ roof, though temporarily, and Nicola said: “They get on very, very well and they support each other. Both say they get more nervous watching each other than watching themselves!
“Jaden has moved back to Queensland from Melbourne to be closer to our family during Covid time, but has bought a new home. He’s waiting for it to be built. He’ll will be moving into Zac’s new apartment in a few weeks as Zac still wants to live at home for a while.”
On Saturday, Jaden will be teaming up with Hong Kong’s former multiple champion trainer John Moore at Eagle Farm racecourse near Brisbane. The connection between the legendary trainer and the young Lloyd has been more than a decade in the making and Racenet reported Moore as saying that he is feeling a sense of deja vu.
At the peak of his powers, Moore struck up a relationship with Jeff, who was based in Hong Kong at the time and they eventually won a Group 1 together in the 2011 Hong Kong Mile with Able One after enjoying considerable success over the previous seasons.
With trainers and jockeys living on course at Sha Tin, it was there Moore first met the Lloyds. “It’s funny, most of the guys around now were there (Hong Kong) as kids,” Moore said. “I remember kicking a football around with Jaden and Zac down the front area of Racecourse Gardens (Sha Tin).
“I was leading trainer that season when Jeff was there, Darren (Beadman) was my stable jockey and Jeff was the backup so you couldn’t have better than that – Jeff was in his absolute prime.”
With Jaden Lloyd riding work for Moore each morning, the master trainer has made it his mission to ensure his riding career is not just a flash in the pan, but a long and fruitful one just like his fathers.
While he is closer to the end of his glittering career rather than the start, Moore feels a sense of energy with Lloyd at the stables and said: “Here I am now with Jaden when he is just kicking off his career, he’s only been going a few months so I am lucky enough to arrive here when the Lloyd boys are starting,” he said.
This is, indeed, the start of a really promising chapter for a family steeped in racing and while Jaden was out of the blocks first, having started earlier, his equally talented younger brother will be keeping him on his toes for many years to come.
We hope to be around when Jaden and Zac come into their own as qualified professionals. They’ve really only just begun, but theirs are careers already written in the stars. Wherever in the world they may end up riding, we’ll be watching! -IRC.