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Image: Graham Potter
Kyle Wilson-Taylor is an emerging star apprentice in Queensland

Kyle Wilson-Taylor doesn’t do things in half-measures.

The young apprentice rode six winners over the weekend. Earlier in the season he rode four winners each over successive Saturdays at Toowoomba. On one of those Saturdays, he also rode a winner at the Gold Coast making it five winners in one day. The numbers just keep stacking up.

But Wilson-Taylor isn’t getting ahead of himself.

“My confidence is very high at the moment, but I’m also very aware of what the racing game is like … one day you can be as high as anything and the next you can be low … so its all about trying to keep a level head, I think,” said Wilson-Taylor.

“My boss Lindsay Hatch is great at helping with that. Definitely. If ever he thinks I need a clip over the ear he is happy to give me one.”

The road Wilson-Taylor has followed has taken many twists and turns to bring him where he is today and there were several moments along the way, both professional and personal, which might have brought his journey to a premature end … just as there were those prompts and pivotal moments that spurred him on, pointing him in the direction of race riding.

“For some reason I always knew I was never going to have a normal job. I did know that, although I didn’t know what I was going to be,” said Wilson-Taylor. ‘Becoming a jockey was never a thought of mine, but my grandfather kept stirring me up about it … and that is where it all began.

“I went on a school camp which produced a bit of a pivotal moment for me. I do believe that things happen for a reason and, on that school camp, we were either given a horse or a bike to ride … and they chose me to ride a horse.

“I rode the horse … and that was that!

But the hard yards were about to start.

“In Victoria, I didn’t get into the Apprentice Academy,” said Wilson-Taylor. “I wasn’t quite up to it. They wanted you to be more ready than I was at that time.

“I was a bit disheartened and I went through a period where actually I stopped riding altogether.

“It wasn’t a good time. My family and I were evicted from our home. I was living from couch to couch. I just woke up one day and we were evicted. That was pretty hard.

“My life … well, I could have gone either way, but I decided to change the situation I was in and move away to chase my dream … so that’s what I did.”

On the riding side of things there have been multiple stepping-stones, as Wilson-Taylor relates.

“I was with Lee and Shannon Hope originally,” said Wilson-Taylor. “They started me off. I must have been there for the best part of five years. I knew nothing and they taught me a lot.

“They sent me to a pre-training / breaking facility and there was a lady there called Bronwyn Upjohn. She is a phenomenal horsewoman. I didn’t know which way to get on a horse, so she taught me from scratch.

“There was a lot of falling off. I used to fall off virtually every day … maybe I just got that scared that I didn’t let go afterwards … but, by this time there was no other option for me. This was all I was going to do.

“I don’t think I was a quick learner or a slow learner. I think it is the same for everybody, although I do think I had some sort of natural ability. Learning to ride a racehorse is completely different thing to anything else though. It is a particular process.”

Then came the move to New South Wakes.

‘Once I left Victoria where, as I said, things were quite bad for me on a personal basis, I went to Coffs Harbour. I just walked into the track there one day. I didn’t do any research or anything like that. I just walked in and said I want to be an apprentice,” said Wilson Taylor.

“A few trainers put me on just to see if I could ride … but then I saw Brett (Dodson) ride a horse himself. I didn’t know how good a trainer he was or anything, but I just knew that I wanted to be his apprentice. So, I asked him and, thankfully, he took me on.

“I was there for probably two years. I had a race-fall which brought a halt to everything.

“I stopped riding for a bit and there were a few things going on that were out of my control as well that I needed to deal with at the time.

“I moved to Dwayne Schmidt’s stable. Dwayne was very hard on me, but he ironed out the things that I needed ironed out which was good for me.

“Michael Beattie was also a positive factor there for me. He has been very instrumental in helping me make progress. He has a very good eye for a race, in terms of watching them and understanding what is going on … so he is a great help. We still talk frequently.

“The move from there to Lindsay Hatch in Toowoomba began through my manager Glen Courtney. He is a Queensland manager and he was managing me when I was in the Northern Rivers. Of course, he knows Lindsay very well.

“Glen brought me up to the Gold Coast for a race meeting one day and then he said you are also going to go to Toowoomba and ride one for Lindsay Hatch. I rode for Lindsay and he offered me a position with the stable in Toowoomba … but then Covid hit and I had to stay in the Rivers.

“Once that situation changed, I headed back to Toowoomba.”

Wilson-Taylor is currently living with Lindsay Hatch and his family which has brought him, to some degree, in touch with the ‘old school’ master/apprentice setup where the apprentice stays under the master’s roof and there are certainly benefits that come out of that arrangement.

“Lindsay and his family have been amazing for me. They keep me out of trouble and in line so that I can concentrate on my work.”

Wilson-Taylor already has something in common with that great jockey Jeffrey Lloyd.

Lloyd was once asked why he was always had such a serious expression on his face when he was in the saddle and he replied that was because race-riding is a serious business and that he was there to do a job and he always stayed focused on that.

Wilson-Taylor’s face, similarly, win or lose, seldom changes expression.

‘I absolutely echo Jeff’s sentiments,” said Wilson Taylor. “To me, it is not a game … it is my life.

“I feel I don’t have anything else and, as blunt as this may sound, I don’t care about anything else.

“This is my life. This is what I have dedicated myself to since I was a boy. I’ve come this far, and I try to make every ride count. In the end, it really all comes down to opportunity and making the most of the opportunities when they come along.

“I am just very lucky and thankful to all of the owners and trainers for entrusting me with the rides on these horses. They spend a lot of money and its great they allow me to ride them.”

And looking forward?

“I do believe I can have a successful career,” said Wilson-Taylor, but, as I said at the start, it dangerous to get ahead of yourself.

“I have been at the lowest of the lows … at the bottom … so that’s why I am hungry to succeed and I will do all in my power to make that happen.”

 
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