Lauren Stojakovic steps on her bathroom scales hoping, by some miracle, to wind back the clock.
With the help of family and a psychologist, the retired Group 1 jockey has managed to turn the dreadful daily ritual into an every-second-day event.
Try as she might, however, Stojakovic cannot quite come to terms with retirement.
In 2013 she was an integral part of one of the most memorable Blue Diamond Stakes wins ever, riding the late, great Miracles Of Life.
Lauren Stojakovic scored the biggest win of her career on Miracles Of Life in the 2013 Blue Diamond Stakes. Picture: Wayne LudbeySource:News Limited
Stojakovic stopped race riding in 2017, unable to manage her weight safely anymore.
Trackwork filled the void, until a fall in 2019 left her with a neck fracture and growing medical costs.
“It is the hardest thing I’ve had to ever do … to let go,” Stojakovic said. “Being a jockey was always (what I wanted to do), maybe since I was five, all through school. There was never any other option for me … so when that came to an end, the transition was hard.
“I’m still struggling with letting go (after three years) and every day I get on the scales and think ‘please, please’ by some miracle be back there (race riding) — but I’m not.”
Stojakovic found solace in working with, and around horses, with great people in the Adelaide Hills, first training as a veterinary nurse and now, in administration, but it is “different”.
“When you’ve got a dream and then it’s not there any more,” Stojakovic said. “You were someone and then, you kind of feel like no one. It’s a massive struggle.”
Lauren Stojakovic retired from race riding in 2017.Source:Supplied
Stojakovic has been reluctant to speak about her inner demons, but has realised her story and experience could help others. Even, if it is only one other person.
“I probably should talk more to people than what I do,” she said.
“I kind of hold things in a little bit, but to be honest I’ve actually been getting a bit of professional help this year to try and feel OK about the transition (life after racing).
“Obviously, when you’re riding you’re very light and when you’re not riding you put on some weight, self-image is a huge thing as well I struggle with. Hopefully one day I will get through that.”
For all the time spent wasting to make weight, like walking for hours on end in a wetsuit or lying in a blistering bath, Stojakovic would not change a thing about her time as a jockey.
“I still watch the races and wish I was still out there,” she said. “Whether it be Caulfield or Kangaroo Island, it wouldn‘t bother me.
Lauren Stojakovic admits watching Miracles Of Life’s Blue Diamond win still makes her teary, but in good ways.Source:News Limited
“I don’t go to the races any more, I just watch on TV. I feel probably, slightly embarrassed to go to the races, because people haven’t seen me for so long and obviously I have put on weight. I‘m very self-conscious about that … like I said, it’s hard.”
The Blue Diamond always brings back emotional memories, only intensified since Miracles Of Life, aka Barbie, died in a 2019 paddock accident.
Stojakovic has a host of touching keepsakes, from pictures and the Blue Diamond rug to a new oil painting her partner, Heath Montgomerie, commissioned as a Christmas present.
“I do go back and watch (the replay) sometimes. It makes me a bit teary, in good ways,” she said. “It’s definitely more than I could have imagined happening in my career — the best experience of my life.”
Originally published as‘Massive struggle:’ Life in retirement weighs on Stojakovic
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