Baylee Nothdurft felt like he was falling out of love with racing as he was physically and mentally fried last year but the premiership-winning rider returns to the races on Saturday with a determined focus and plan to extend his riding career.
Nothdurft had the golden touch when he won the 2019-20 Brisbane riding premiership but things fell apart last November when he ended up in hospital with dehydration in a period when he was desperately trying to keep a lid on his ballooning weight.
He then decided to take a break from racing before making steady but determined steps to extend his riding career, embarking on a strict diet and exercise regime.
Nothdurft, 22, will make a low-key comeback to the saddle on Saturday at Dalby, taking the ride on Dalby Newmarket topweight Ozark (59.5kg) for trainer Lindsay Hatch who the jockey did his early apprenticeship with.
Dalby, 208km north-west of Brisbane, is a far cry from the big smoke of city racing but Nothdurft is committed to making sure his second chance at a riding career is sustainable.
“I want to race ride, that’s what I want to do for a living, but I was starting not looking forward to race meetings when I had weight to lose last year,” Nothdurft said.
“It got me down quite a bit, riding three or four times a week was a constant battle, I was fried.
“I was riding 54(kg) when I won the premiership but then I started to get a bit heavy and I was growing and getting taller.
“My weight just kept ricocheting all the time and it was up and down.
“I’ve been working very hard on things in my break and I’m now walking around at about 59.5(kg) by doing things the proper way.
“If I can keep the weight coming down then hopefully in a couple of months I will be around 56.5/57(kg).
“I am just going to start off really easy and not push myself and not be full-on until my weight comes right.
“If I go too hard too early, I would probably face the same scenario again.”
Nothdurft became a rolled-gold force when he linked with Tony Gollan but knows there may not be huge opportunities there in the future given Gollan now has the likes of Melbourne Cup winner Michael Rodd and Group 1 winner Ryan Maloney riding for him.
Nothdurft has been riding trackwork for Steve O’Dea and Matt Hoysted who will support him with rides once his weight comes down, although the jockey says will be available to ride for other trainers.
Baylee Nothdurft on The Acutary at Doomben last year. Picture: Grant Peters, Trackside Photography.Source:The Courier-Mail
He knows his weight battle may still end up limiting his riding career but wants to make the most of jockey life while he can.
“When I had this break it was then about then having a proper crack or not even coming back, they were really the only two options,” he said.
“I thought to myself that I had to have a proper dig now and keep my weight stable and hopefully that is going to give me a little bit of longevity.
“I’m on a high protein diet, and I can live off it, having food like bacon and eggs for breakfast and then chicken and vegies for lunch and maybe fish and salad for dinner.
“I want to lose weight comfortably as I think that is the best way for me going forward.”
Nothdurft has not given much thought to a post-riding career, given he is putting all his eggs in one basket and desperate to make a go of things back in the saddle.
However he has always had a keen interest in racing greyhounds and says “if worst comes to worst and one day I can’t ride anymore, I would love to train a few greyhounds.”
Nothdurft’s ride on Ozark will be the first time he has ridden in a race since November 8 last year.
Baylee Nothdurft. Pic: AAP.Source:AAP
Originally published asComeback jockey: Premiership-winner returns with new focus
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