There was a time when Jeff Lloyd feared his riding career was over and if not for his passion and the support of a long-time friend, it probably would have been.
The jockey, who has ridden with success in South Africa, Australia and Hong Kong, had a stroke last year.
He was one of the lucky ones, escaping severe paralysis and although it did temporarily affect movement on his left side, that improved with treatment.
But at 52, resuming his riding career seemed improbable.
“I thought it was gone and I wasn’t ready to let it go,” Lloyd said.
“I thought `there’s got to be more’.”
At Canterbury on Wednesday, there was.
At just his second meeting since his return, Lloyd kicked home a winner for trainer David Payne when Paederos took out the TAB Quaddie Handicap.
Lloyd and Payne were a formidable combination in South Africa for almost a decade and enjoyed further success together in Sydney during the mid-2000s before Lloyd relocated to Hong Kong.
When the jockey phoned Payne a couple of months ago to put the feelers out about a return, Payne was hesitant.
“He phoned me and said he wanted to make a comeback and I said, `Jeff, are you crazy? You’ve had a stroke and you’re not young’,” Payne said.
“But then I said to him, `look come down and ride and I’ll tell you if you should have come back or not.
“He’s been riding work and he looks alright to me.
“That was a perfect ride today.”
Lloyd was based in Brisbane when he suffered the stroke but said the quality of racing and people in Sydney lured him south again.
The afternoon was also significant for apprentice Taylor Marshall who won his first metropolitan race aboard Agent for Hawkes Racing.
The 21-year-old, who is indentured to Ron Quinton, is the son of former top jockey John Marshall.