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Zac and Stefi to attack Stradbroke

Wed 12 June 2024

By Jordan Gerrans

The complete package from a young age.

An apprentice that is set to rise to the top quickly.

That is just a few different ways apprentice young gun Zac Lloyd has been described in recent days as the Queensland hoop bids for his maiden Group 1 title on Saturday in the Stradbroke Handicap.

The 20-year-old has already claimed a swag of Group 2 and 3 races, as well as Listed events, but a victory at the highest level is yet to be added to his always growing resume.

The way Lloyd is rocketing up the jockey ranks, it is almost inevitable that he will join his now retired father Jeff in the Group 1 club in the near future.

Another in the Group 1 club – Shane Scriven – watched Lloyd from a young age in the Sunshine State before he relocated to Sydney to chase his riding dreams.

“He was the whole package at a young age,” Scriven said.

It will be Stefi Magnetica from the Bjorn Baker camp that Lloyd will ride on Saturday in his attempt to claim Queensland’s time-honoured race.

The light-weight hoop was the filly’s partner on the course proper on Tuesday morning in her final hit-out before the 1400 metre event.

There have been several floated as potential jockeys for Stefi Magnetica in the Stradbroke in recent weeks – including Cejay Graham and Rachel King – but Baker is happy to go the way of the promising Lloyd.

“Zac is obviously riding very well and he can ride very strongly at a light weight as well, which gives us confidence,” Baker said.

“I see him most mornings at Warwick Farm, as he is based there, and he has done great things this season.

“He is an apprentice that is going to go straight to the top.

“It is a very important for him and me – a big race like this in Queensland – so I am sure it would mean the world to him to win it.”

Lloyd will ride Baker’s filly at just 50kg on Saturday.

The smiling youngster spent time under the guidance of Brisbane trainer Lauren Abbott and the Edmonds’ on the Gold Coast when he started his riding journey.

While Lloyd was busy on the country and provincial scene in the early stages of his career in the Sunshine State, he barely rode in the city before transferring to Sydney.

He rode at one meeting as part of the National Apprentice Race Series a couple of years ago.

Lloyd jokes that he knows the work surfaces on the inside of Eagle Farm well but is still coming to terms with the grass and course proper.

He was keen to retain as much of his claim as possible with his long-term plans always to get to Sydney.

He took five rides on Oaks day last Saturday, as well as galloping Stefi Magnetica on Tuesday, so the young jockey believes he is now ready for the Stradbroke occasion.

“It is a good homecoming in Queensland’s biggest race,” the apprentice jockey said.

“It is good to be back for the carnival.

“It is good to be a part of it, riding for Bjorn as well as I have a good affiliation with him in Sydney.

“It will be special if I can get the job done and I think I am the right horse to do so.”

While it is a business trip back to the Sunshine State, Lloyd is glad to be back to see his Gold Coast-based family, who he stays with when he heads north.

“It is good to see my parents and the family,” the young hoop said.

“I only come up for a short time but the time I get up here is good.”

As of Thursday morning, Stefi Magnetica is a $15 chance with the bookmakers after drawing a wide alley on Tuesday at the barrier draw.

Lloyd has race day experience on the young filly already, riding her in a Benchmark level race in February in Sydney.

“She is really going well, she is feeling well,” Lloyd said after her gallop on Tuesday.

“I think third-up into the Stradbroke, she will be peaking nicely. It is shaping up to be a really good race.”

Lloyd has the 'skills to pay the bills' on the racetrack but he is also a highly intelligent young man who excelled at his high school studies before pursuing a career as a jockey, like his great father.

Scriven – who works as Racing Queensland’s Senior Apprentice Coach – notes that Lloyd always presents himself well and in a professional manner.

He is now indentured to Godolphin who have champion rider Darren Beadman in their camp.

Scriven believes the Beadman influence has been key for Lloyd.

“He was very young when the offer came along and those offers do not come along very often to go to a stable like Godolphin,” Scriven said.

“I think with Darren being there, he could mentor him at such a young age.

“To see the development and what he has done – you have to take your hat off to the young fella, he was thrown into the deep end, and he has grabbed it with both hands.

“Hopefully it might culminate in his first Group 1 on the weekend.”

Baker’s All Too Hard filly was an eye-catching runner in the Doomben 10,000 where she came from last to finish a touch over a length behind winner Bella Nipotina.

She did similar at her last start in the Fred Best.

The Sydney trainer feels he has Stefi Magnetica rolling along in the way he likes ahead of the Stradbroke.

“When she was up and going earlier in the autumn and in the late summer, we really got her into a good routine where she would run every two weeks and have one relatively easy gallop on the Tuesday prior,” Baker said.

“We are back into that formula that we know works for her.

“Zac was very happy with her work and I think she will be better set-up this time at 1400 metres third-up.

“I think she is well suited as she gets in with a light weight and her run in the Doomben 10,000 puts her in the mix. She has not had a lot of luck in her last seven or so starts so hopefully we can get some on Saturday.”