Baylee Nothdurft, last season’s Brisbane Metropolitan Premiership winning jockey, scored the first win in an important new stage of his career when he partnered the Steven O’Dea / Matt Hoysted trained Ginja to a solid victory at Ipswich on Saturday.
An impressive haul of 77.5 metropolitan winners last season carried Nothdurft into grand company as he famously became the first apprentice to win the title since Michael Rodd (in 2001/2) and Zac Purton (in 2002/3) on the back of strong support from the Tony Gollan stable, with the leading Brisbane trainer playing an instrumental role in Nothdurft’s success.
But what was to follow highlighted the cut and thrust nature of game which can have you looking down at the rest at one moment and struggling to find traction the next.
A smashed jaw saw Nothdurft seeing out the end of last season on the sidelines before he returned, now as a senior rider, seemingly better than ever running up an impressive sequence of wins on his comeback.
Even at that time, with the scoreboard once again ticking along nicely with eight out of his first ten winners after he resumed riding coming from the powerful Gollan stable, Baylee confessed, ‘My weight has been a bit of a struggle. That has been a slow process. I’m still trying to get the weight down.
Either serving or contesting a series of suspensions he had received over a fair period of time also plagued Nothdurft’s progress to some degree but, at the end of the day, it was the twenty-four seven, physical stress and strain that is inherent in a jockey’s lifestyle that led to Nothdurft making a major decision regarding his immediate future at the end of November 2020.
“I’m going to have a break (from riding),” announced Nothdurft at that time. “Then I will give myself time to get my weight right.”
It is always a concern when that is the reason a jockey is giving it away … even temporarily … because, under those circumstances, it would be just as tough to come back and, because of the enormity of the task involved, some actually don’t make it back.
Nothdurft has made it back.
He was away from race riding for almost exactly four months, and it was a very low key and quiet return riding one for his former boss Lindsay Hatch at Dalby on March 6.
Then it was on to one ride at Ipswich a week later where he came back a winner on Ginja followed by one ride at Toowoomba the same evening in a return that is designed to be slow but steady.
“It was good to get a winner for Steven (O’Dea) and Matt (Hoysted),” said Nothdurft.
“They have really helped me and been supportive since I joined their stable. They have really supported me in my weight loss and letting me tackle that in my own time.
“The first day I sat back on a horse, I knew this was what I wanted to do again.
‘When I was ready to come back Tony (Gollan) didn’t really have a position for me at that time. I needed to start getting back to trackwork and I approached Steve and Matt and they were happy to take me on.
“It’s very hard. I did know how hard it was going to be, so I thought I’d ride at a weight that is comfortable for a while,” (Nothdurf’s three rides back have been at 58.5kg, 59kg and 59.5kg).
“When my weight gets right, I will try to get back to the city … that is when I’m riding at 56.5kg, 57kg, that’s when I’ll try to get back to the city.
“Until then, I hang around the sort of meetings I’ve been going to so far.
“it is a slow comeback … but that was always the plan.
“So far things are going to plan and I’m happy with that.”