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By Graham Potter | Monday, January 11, 2021

The Guv - overcoming the odds - the story of the life of jockey Jeff Lloyd, is an extraordinary tale of an extraordinary person.

If you think you will be just be reading about a jockey and all things racing, you could not be more mistaken.

The Guv is a story about staring down adversity, standing your ground, overcoming setbacks, making difficult choices and yes … having a level of focus, determination and competitiveness, backed by never ending desire and capacity to refine skills and raise goals … all of which has made Lloyd into the champion he is today … both in his professional and personal life.

In essence it is as much a human-interest story as it is a sporting one and it clearly does translate into a story from which many can draw inspiration. The more you get into the book, the greater the sense of what can be achieved and, therefore, it ultimately carries a very strong, positive message.

The challenges, both physical and mental, the cross-continent locations which can be testing enough in itself, and the longevity of it all, weaves Lloyd’s story together into an intricate texture of many fabrics lined with real meaning and significance, all the more so because it is held together firmly by the unwavering bond between Lloyd, his family and his friends.

Another big plus is that The Guv is an easy read.

The 167 pages fall neatly into fourteen chapters which chart Lloyd’s progress through life, touching on so many points of significant interest … good and bad … without labouring at all along the way.

Here is a teaser, in Lloyds forthright words, of each chapter’s contents:

About being at school as a youngster in South Africa in a bygone era … one in which political correctness was still non-existent: “I stood out for all of the wrong reasons. I was English with a British accent, I was small for my age, and I had a squint. The bullying was merciless and relentless. The senior boys … found it amusing to use me as a rugby ball and pass me to one another.”

About the early years of his apprenticeship: “I had many falls as an apprentice. I was careless and fearless and not an ideal person to follow in a race. Because of my dogged determination, passion and will to win I was often in trouble and had many suspensions.”

About his breakthrough win and rise to becoming Champion apprentice and the doors that opened: “I had a simple upbringing and had never fitted in anywhere, let alone been popular. Now top trainers wanted me to ride for them. It felt wonderful to be wanted.”

About the mighty Wolf Power, a true South African champion racehorse: “The feeling of being on a horse (like Wolf Power) when it accelerates is almost indescribable … A horse is a living creature with a mind and a heart of its own and the raw thrill of pent-up power being released in a surge of acceleration is a unique privilege very few humans ever experience.”

About setting out to become National Champion Jockey of South Africa: “I was flying all over the country and race riding six days a week … Wherever I was (Johannesburg, Port Elizabeth, Bloemfontein, Kimberley), I had to get back to Durban each morning for work. My schedule was brutal.”

About riding in England: “Each time I had a ride I would check the papers to see if Lester Piggott was riding at the same meeting. Finally, …his name appeared, not only at the same meeting, but in the same race. I hoped and prayed that we would contest a short-head finish … Win or lose, it would have been the highlight of my career.”

About family: “We (Nicole and I) are both very determined, strong-willed people, and while these traits caused many problems in the early part of our relationship, they have also ensured that we have fought fiercely for what is important to us - our relationship and our family.”

About riding in Mauritius and Singapore:

“In Mauritius, a jockey’s job depends on his ability to correctly predict which horses the owners should bet on. If he is wrong too often, he stands to lose his job.

“Singapore is a clean and beautiful place to live … but I have never experienced anything like the constant heat and humidity which makes being outdoors very uncomfortable. I realise now we didn’t time our Singapore experience very well.”

About emigration: “As the plane took off and we looked down on African soil for the last time, the enormity of our new adventure almost overwhelmed me. Each time we had lived and worked overseas it had always been with the certainty that we would return to South Africa. This time we were leaving forever.”

About riding in Hong Kong: “Making a good start each season is vital. In Hong Kong, and in Chinese culture, there is a great emphasis on luck, so those jockeys who have early success are seen as the ones who will be lucky for the rest of the season and are, therefore, the jockeys most likely to be employed by the local trainers.”

About suffering a stroke: “I was in a state of disbelief. I could not process the fact that I had a stroke. I believed I was simply dizzy and had severe headaches. I had walked into hospital, for all intents and purposes a healthy, fit man, and now was being told that I had a life-threatening condition.”

About getting back in the saddle: “He (the neurologist) studied my MRI scan and said, ‘it looks like a cobweb where your artery has split into hundreds of strands, but somehow blood is getting through to your brain. I don’t see any reason why you shouldn’t ride.’ I got out of his office as quickly as I could before he could change his mind.”

About the last word: “I could not have wished for a better way to end my career than the last four seasons I’d had in Queensland. I realised what a privilege it was for my boys to experience it with me, to witness what hard work is, to see how it pays off and to know the determination that is needed to be a top sportsman.”

All credit to Jeff Lloyd and Jane Baldwin for producing a fine record of Lloyd’s personal story.

Want to know more?

If you would like to fill in the gaps and join the dots between all sections of the book mentioned above, you can read to book from cover to cover.

The book will be on sale at the Magic Millions meeting and Lloyd will be doing some signings there.

Also, the book can be purchased online at The Guv Book Purchase

You will not be disappointed.

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Photos: Graham Potter
Photos: Graham Potter
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