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'THE GUV SAYS' ... APPRENTICES HAVE SO MUCH TO OVERCOME. TALENT IS ONLY PART OF THE SOLUTION

By Jeff Lloyd | Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Earlier this year … some forty-three years after he first set foot in the South African Jockey Academy as a raw apprentice … Jeff Lloyd returned to the place where it all started as a guest of honour at the Academy where he interacted both formally and informally with its current students. Lloyd’s massive amount of international experience, his total number of winners … including his outstanding record of Group 1 wins in different countries and his other big race results … as well as his focussed, deep understanding of the intricacies of his profession meant he had plenty of good advice to offer when he addressed those students in a formal setting. Lloyd’s message and the wisdom it contains was, in essence, not just for his immediate audience though. Its value remains true and is there for the benefit of any apprentice who wants to give his or her dream of reaching for the stars its best chance of coming alive. For those apprentices who really want to take their career seriously, ‘The Guv says …’, the personal blog of Jeff Lloyd which appears exclusively on HRO, should be essential reading.

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“When I gave the talk at the South African Jockey Academy there must have been about eighteen apprentices or so in the room. I told them what was expected of them at this stage and what would be the best way for them to go forward.

“I really enjoyed doing it. I always like to help the younger riders. It was even a little bit emotional for me at times but it went well. I gave out a lot of advice which seemed to be taken on board but, as far as apprentices go, where-ever you are, you have got to realise you are dealing with young men and young women … or those who are turning into young men and young women … and they can start getting little attitudes because their hormones have all changed and they start thinking they are something just because they are apprentice jockeys.

“For their part the apprentices have to realise that when they are at the track they are often dealing with people, many of whom have been in the game their whole lives. These people are all looking for the next star or, should I say, they are really doing is looking for signs that will point them in the direction of the next star.

“The first thing that catches attention is who looks like they are willing to work the hardest. Who will do it with a smile and be polite and dress suitably. All these things are very important early on. You need to look the part and the importance of that public image never goes away. It remains important at every stage of a jockey’s career.

“You can see somebody who looks good on a horse but they have got the wrong attitude. Ability will only get you so far. I have seen a lot of kids with a lot of ability go nowhere because of their attitude … and visa versa. I’ve seen kids with not much ability to start off with, but the right attitude, make something of themselves and become a good rider.

“Either way it is always going to be very hard for apprentices because they are young. They’ve been thrown into a big game and they have got to grow up very quickly. It’s about self-discipline and a lot of kids are going to battle with self-discipline at that age. There are those who grow up quickly and there are those who wake up too late. The earlier they handle themselves well and deal with the challenge the better for them.

“Ultimately they have to approach their career in a mature way. They can’t approach it just thinking that things are going to fall into place. They have got to be mature to make it work.”

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“In terms of difficulties facing apprentices, another important point to recognise it that it is a different world now to the one many of us knew when we were growing up and that has its impact on the apprentices of today.

“My dad brought me up the strict, old way. We didn’t have any money. I never expected anything because I knew I had to work for everything I got. Getting anything you wanted was simply out of the question because you just couldn’t afford it.

“I went out to work to get the things I wanted. When you’ve got nothing, it is easier to go out and do that. Nowadays though it is harder for most kids, not only apprentices, to gain that work ethic because a lot of them live in nice houses with swimming pools or jacuzzis. They’ve got television sets in their rooms. They play tv games. Those are all luxuries. We had none.

“It’s great that they can afford it but it can, and does, take the edge off the need to succeed in your career and that is one of the reasons why so much talent is squandered.

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“That brings us directly to the question of mindset.

I do believe that, with any sportsman, a positive mindset is as important as your ability.

“Any sportsman has got to ooze confidence … especially jockeys because we are not out there by ourselves. We are working with animals and your confidence levels feed off to the animal. If you are down that will feed off in a negative way so your mindset as a jockey is really important.

“You have got to have a strong mindset. If you haven’t got one you have got to create one otherwise it is going bite your arse more times than not. A strong mindset coupled with that self-discipline I mentioned earlier is worth its weight in gold.

“If you have that strong mindset, you will stay focussed on what is important in your career.

“I try and tell the younger guys, especially my children when they are riding, to learn something from every horse they ride. I tell them I don’t want to see the walking and joking with their mates. It is not time to joke … it is time to be serious.

Full article

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Jeff Lloyd
Jeff Lloyd
Lloyd is a proud family man ...
Lloyd is a proud family man ...
… and there can be no doubt his family are proud of him
… and there can be no doubt his family are proud of him
Lloyd pictured with part of his fan-club
Lloyd pictured with part of his fan-club
Bringing back yet another winner

Photos: Graham Potter
Bringing back yet another winner

Photos: Graham Potter
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