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By Graham Potter | Monday, May 30, 2022

The Queensland Winter Carnival means different things to different people.

For jockeys, like Mark Du Plessis, who are not linked directly to any big stables, the race for rides becomes a really uneven contest during this time with many local jockeys becoming collateral damage in that regard due to the significant influx of the southern raiders.

“It does play on your mind when you are going so well and building momentum nicely and then you hit a bit of a drought like that. Everything just drops off,” said Mark Du Plessis, in reference to the secondary role most jockeys have to take when the gun riders from the southern states arrive for the Queensland Winter Carnival where they generally have the pick of the rides.

“It’s carnival time … and you always know it is going to be a difficult. It has nothing to do with your own ability or form … but it is still difficult to handle. It still messes with your head.

“Every jockey in that position would start to question themselves and even get down in the dumps because everything becomes a slog, but you just have to adopt a strategy which is best for you to help you get through this period.

“Some jockeys do take up the option to move to the provincials during this time … where they are assured of more rides,” continued Du Plessis.

“I’ve chosen to stay in town and stay on the big stage, even if I am in the shadows, and do what I can. Taking up the provincial option … well that might change for me when I am a bit older, or that might also mean it is the time for me to give up.

“I’m nowhere near there yet and I’m determined to keep pushing through.

“The carnival and the way rides pan out and the way odds are stacked against you in terms of the limited number of good rides available, particularly with the visiting jockeys, is just the way it is.

“It only lasts a couple of months. I’m looking forward to getting back up to full speed.”

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Mark Du Plessis ... sometimes you just have to bite the bullet

Photo: Graham Potter
Mark Du Plessis ... sometimes you just have to bite the bullet

Photo: Graham Potter
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