Veteran jockey Jeff Lloyd punched home Paederos in the benchmark 74 handicap race at Canterbury this afternoon to score his first race win since suffering a stroke in March last year.
Lloyd suffered a stroke on the Gold Coast on March 18 due to a blood clot and has underwent serious rehabilitation to return to full fitness before returning to riding at the Randwick Kensington track on Monday.
Paedero was well-backed in the lead-up to the benchmark 74 handicap at Canterbury today, but was challenged by Raunchy Rocker in the last 200 metres before pressing clear under heavy riding by Lloyd in the final stages of the race.
Lloyd admitted that he thought his career as a jockey was over after he suffered the stroke, but believes that the motivation to get back to the track to ride winners helped him get through his rehabilitation and back to full health.
“I thought I was gone but I wasn’t ready to let it go to be honest,” Lloyd said.
“I was still loving the game and I thought there has to be more and that my body would tell me yes or no.
“I had a torn vessel to the brain, which caused the blood clot, and it was full blown stroke but luckily no paralysis; just very slight for the first few months, a little on the left side but nothing bad enough to keep me out and it has got better with treatment.
“It motivated me, I’ve been doing a lot of swimming and a lot of gym work, which I have never done in the past.
“It has been a road where I have pushed myself to get to where I am and I am just happy to have a winner.”
Lloyd said that he knew after he started riding trackwork and in trials at the start of the month that he was fit enough to return to competitive riding and paid credit to good friend David Payne, who gave him the ride on Paederos this afternoon.
“I felt like everything was still there it was just a matter of whether I got the chances and thankfully David has put me on a nice horse early,” Lloyd said.
Lloyd spent the majority of his riding career in South Africa, riding almost 100 winners at Group 1 level, before moving to Sydney in 2008, where he had an immediate impact.
The South African scored his maiden Group 1 victory in Australia on Nom Du Jeu in the 2008 Australian Derby (2400m) at Royal Randwick and, during a stint in Hong Kong, took out the Group 1 2011 Hong Kong Mile (1600m) on Able One before partnering Pear Tart to victory in the Group 2 Queensland Guineas (1600m) and Group 1 Tattersall’s Tiara (1400m) during the 2012 Brisbane Winter Racing Carnival.