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Life on the farm suits jockey Jake Bayliss

Wed 19 June 2024

By Jordan Gerrans

When Jake Bayliss arrives at his farm at Ripley and his mobile phone can be switched off – that is when he is at peace.

The 29-year-old is a Group 1 champion in the saddle after having ridden all around the world.

When Jake is at the races – he is the ultimate professional with his mind on the job.

But, whenever he can find a rare non-racing day in the Sunshine State or on the Northern Rivers of NSW – he quickly switches that phone off and heads to Ripley.

Ripley is down the road from the Ipswich track, where the Bayliss name is steeped in history and where Jake took his first steps in racing.

Away from his riding commitments, Jake is a hobby farmer of 120 head of cattle.

He and other members of his family look after three paddocks which take up about 1,500 acres in total.

At one point Jake knocked back an international riding contract so he could remain at the farm and help out his family.

The hard-working jockey does it as a ‘hobby’ right now at the peak of his powers in his career as a hoop but when he does finish up, he aims to do it on a full-time basis.

“It is important to take a step back from race riding at times, even one day getting out here on the farm and just winding down,” the rider said.

“It is about enjoying the little things like throwing hay out to the cattle.

“You can get so caught up in your job and racing is such a demanding industry, it can be a bit over the top at times and it can stress you out to the max.

“Any opportunity I can get – when I am not race riding – I am out here straight away and winding down.

“Some people like playing golf or something but for me sitting down here with the cattle, that is my go.”

The Bayliss clan have a house on the farm that they can stay at for longer periods instead of returning to where they live.

The racing industry, as well as the love for cattle, is in Jake’s blood.

His father Jamie – a jockey like his son Jake before he turned his hand to training – and his late grandfather Bob also owned property around the Ripley area at times during their lives.

That is where Jake found his passion.

“Ripley has been part of the Bayliss name's history for generations now,” he said.

“For the land that is still left here, I want to take up the opportunity and have cattle here myself.”

When he is done with riding, Jake has his eyes on a bigger farm with around 300 head of cattle so he can focus on his breeding pursuits once again.

However, he still has plenty of riding in him.

Jake is enjoying his most prolific season in the saddle since the 2019-20 campaign with 52 winners to his name.

He rode at Mackay on Tuesday and then back into Brisbane for the city meeting on Wednesday.

And, as the carnival rolls along to Ipswich this Saturday, all roads lead there once again for the Bayliss clan.

The Bundamba-based facility has been a venue where the Bayliss’ have called home for decades.

Jake’s late great-grandfather Col is a life member and never missed a meeting while his grandfather Bob lived around the corner from the track and was the clerk of the course for 25 years.

Bob was clerk of the course at Eagle Farm and Doomben as well.

The family affiliation does not stop there as his aunty Sharon was also a clerk of the course and his late grandmother Hazel was also a regular at the track.

Back in 1989, Dixie Kid handed Jake’s father Jamie one of his career highlights when he won the Ipswich Cup for trainer Bruce Brown.

Alongside his younger brother Regan – these days a top hoop in Sydney – the Bayliss boys learnt their trade at their local track.

“For me as a young kid growing up at Ipswich, it is where I did my first gallop and first jump-out,” Jake said.

“It is where I did all the basics before I moved to Melbourne. It holds a big spot in my life.

“My earliest memories of the club would be Regan and I on a Friday afternoon getting the earliest bus we could and go straight to the races.

“It was all we did, we lived and breathed racing from a young age and we made any excuse we could to get out of school and be at the races.”

The Ipswich Cup rolls around for 2024 again this Saturday with Jake and Regan both riding at the meeting.

While it was not the Cup itself, Jake was able to walk away with one of the feature races from the meeting last year – the Gai Waterhouse Classic, which is run at Listed level.

About 12 months on from riding Chassis to victory in the event, Jake says he still gets emotional thinking about it.

After crossing the winning post, he looked up into the grandstand to picture where his grandparents would be sitting if they were still alive.

He is a multiple Group 1 champion in the saddle and the Gai Waterhouse Classic might not be his greatest win in terms of race status, but it is certainly his most sentimental yet.

That is until he finally wins the Ipswich Cup.

He has been booked to partner outsider in the market Caprice Des Dieux for Stephen Lee in Saturday’s 2150 metre staying feature.

“It only comes once a year and you have to be on the right horse and get the right run,” he said.

“Everything has to go right to win a race like the Ipswich Cup and I would hope one day it could happen, it is a big feat to accomplish.

“You only get a shot at it once a year and I wouldn’t say my riding career would be complete if I was to win the Cup but winning it would make me feel more at ease with it on my resume.

“From a young age, the Ipswich Cup has always been the race I wanted to win and as I got older you learn about the Melbourne Cup all those things.

“But, for me, the Ipswich Cup is more a reality thing and you know the Cup is in your grasp and I will keep trying every year and hopefully I can crack it.”