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By Graham Potter | Friday, November 10, 2023

Michael Rodd rubber-stamped a remarkable comeback to race riding when he piloted the Shuan Dwyer trainer Anemacore to victory in a Maiden Handicap at the Sunshine Coast on Friday night.

Rodd had endured and overcome a nightmare, massive twenty-nine month spell on the sidelines fighting what has been termed post-concussion syndrome, a condition which not only took his profession away from him for that extended period of time, but also impacted his private life and well-being to a debilitating and distressing degree.

So, quite understandably, the emotion was raw between jockey and trainer after Rodd had taken his time bringing Anemacore back to scale. You can only imagine the thoughts that were going through his mind on that stroll back to the winners’ enclosure.

And then he brought Anemacore into the number 0ne box.

It was one of those occasions where, maybe, you had to be there to witness it in person to appreciate the depth of emotion that both the jockey and trainer displayed in that very special moment.

Their hug as Rodd dismounted was heartfelt. Rodd then became emotional when talking about how his wife, Cara, had helped him fight his way through the dark days of the last two years. He was in awe of her strength.

Dwyer’s voice wasn’t there when he first opened his mouth to speak, Even after he had composed himself, his voice came in little more than a whisper.

“It’s like winning a Group 1,” offered Dwyer, underlining the fact of just how much Rodd had achieved, what mountain he had climbed … just how momentous this comeback win was.

The status of the race didn’t matter. The prize-money was inconsequential. The only thing that mattered was that Rodd was back doing what he does best, something that was never a guaranteed option during the height of his despair.

Rodd has ridden winners of over 1200 races. Numbered amongst those victories are thirty-three Group 1 successes, including the 2007 Melbourne Cup win on Efficient and the 2012 Cox Plate win aboard Maldivian … standout results of the highest order … but the chances are that this win, Rodd’s first since winning the Group 3 Rough Habit aboard Criminal Defence on May 15, 2021 … albeit in only a Maiden contest … will also be roundly cherished for what it means.

A top, top rider, Rodd’s return, while being an obvious boost to the Queensland riding ranks in itself, also brings into play the combination of the riding skills of a true horseman and the behavioural attributes of a true professional, on and off the track.

The discription role-model comes to mind. It is an often-overused term, but in Rodd’s case it is spot-on.

There is just so much young riders can learn from him.

The wise ones will.

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Photos: Graham Potter
Photos: Graham Potter
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