Fresh of riding 90 winners during the 2021/22 season and having triumphed in the $300,000 The Buffering on the Desleigh Forster-trained Emerald Kingdom on the last day of 2022, Brodie Loy had the world at his feet.
In 2022/23, the talented jockey raced to 65 wins at a career-best 15.7% strike rate, winning the $125,000 QTIS Jewel Prelude on the Steve O’Dea and Matt Hoysted-trained Spin Doctor in March of that year.
Loy was twice Listed-placed in April, finishing second on the Matthew Dunn-trained Cepheus in the $160,000 Canadian Club Tails Stakes and second on the Annabel Neasham-trained Swiss Exile in the Ladbrokes Mick Dittman Plate.
Two months later, Loy was done with the sport.
His battle with weight took a toll on his mental health, and he handed his licence in, blew out to 74kg, and took up boxing as he gained some perspective on life.
“I probably went up there two years ago now, and I was with the Annabel Neasham stable when she opened up at Eagle Farm, and things were good,” Loy told NSW Country and Picnic Racing.
“After a month, I was leading the premiership, but weight got me, and I was getting suspended a little bit and just trying to ride way too light.
“At the end of the day, I was frying myself, and then I wasn’t making weight, and I had six months off.
“I was done with it and was heading back down to Sydney, and that’s when Matty Dunn asked if I wanted to work for him.
“I was 74 kg, working as a stablehand, and riding a bit of trackwork, and eventually I came back riding.”
The 27-year-old was back in the racing saddle in November, making a winning return on the Matt Dunn-trained Mr Monegasque in the 1550m Benchmark 45 Handicap at Murwillumbah.
Since then, he’s managed 19 winners at a remarkable 24.7%-win rate, while in NSW, he’s riding at closer to 40%, with 11 winners to his name in and around the Northern Rivers.
On Sunday, he rode on his home track, bringing up a Murwillumbah double when helping the Annabel Neasham-trained Beauty Bound and Matthew Dunn-trained Bravezel to victories.
“I’ve been back two months, and I’m staying heavy, and it is really showing, and I’m riding at a really good strike rate,” Loy said.
“I’m not getting a lot of rides, which is a bit frustrating at times, but I’ll get one or two rides here and three and four rides there, and I’m just making the most of it.
“It will eventually pick up, and in the mould that I’ve come back in, I just want to be the best heavyweight jockey I can be.
“I’m not going to be disappointed if I don’t get opportunities, and I’ll let them slide through to the keeper.
“I’ll try to ride under 58kg for the Country Championships qualifiers or a big race like that, but otherwise, I’ll be staying at 58kg.”
Loy was thankful to his boss, Matthew Dunn, for whom he still rides work while continuing his quest to become one of the best heavyweight jockeys in NSW and Queensland.
“Matt has helped me more than I could have ever asked,” Loy said.
“He got me back riding, and I was riding every day, and now I’m back as a jockey; I’m going in there two mornings a week.
“He’s a champion bloke, and I enjoy riding for him, and he rode himself back in the day, and he is very supportive of my weight.
“It’s not just riding either; he’s happy to help in general life, and if I come to him with something, he has good advice.”
Based in Murwillumbah, Loy is living his best life and has learned there is more to riding and racing.
He has a supportive partner in apprentice jockey Clare Ramsbotham, a hard-working manager, a loving family, and a good network of friends, including Australian Light-Heavyweight Champion boxer Conor Wallace.
“Conor is a champion boxer and one of my best mates, and he was my coach, and when I was training with him and Sean McGee, the weight just started falling off me,” Loy said.
“That’s when I knew I was within striking distance of getting back to riding, and I had another crack, and here we are.
“We did a fair bit of running and boxing, so it is brutal, but I got in good shape, and I’ve been able to maintain it.
“It helps that my partner Clare is a jockey and has been so supportive. She is 55kg and wants to get down to 52kg. We are eating clean and training together, giving me that little extra motivation to keep working hard.
“Then there is my manager, Liam Prior, who has been borderline my psychologist. He’s been pivotal in getting me back to being happy.
“I’ve rang him numerous times when I’m down and upset, and he puts it plain and simple, and at the end of the day, he’s always said to me, you could be the best jockey in the world, but you need to be happy, and that’s something I’ve really worked on.
“Plus, Mum and Dad are always there offering advice and talking me through things, and I’m lucky in that sense.”
Loy was candid and open about his mental health and the toll it takes being an elite athlete, but he explained that a few realisations meant he wasn’t as focused on the low points of his career but on what he had and who was around him.
“We are getting more mental health awareness in racing, and trainers are seeing that riding that bit heavier and healthier is making a difference,” Loy said.
“It’s a tough industry, and while I don’t think I’m done yet with the city, at the same time, I am now happy to sit back and cop the medicine.
“I’m choosing to ride at 58kg and have a better quality of life instead of killing myself a week in and week out to make an unrealistic weight.
“I spoke with a dietician, and he told me it was unhealthy to be as light as I am and that I should be walking around at 63-64kg.
“Starvation and being consistently light takes a mental toll, but I’ve got that good support network around me, and I’ve found a place where I’m happy and can still ride.
“Racing isn’t everything, and I’ve taken up hobbies, like playing golf and surfing, and we’re not far from the beach, and I guess for me, I’ve learned to drop the ego and find happiness away from racing.
“At the end of the day, you can’t ride forever and be at the top forever; the world goes around, and if I were to stop riding tomorrow, racing wouldn’t stop for me, and knowing that has helped me get happy with life outside of my career.”
Loy, who made his name in the Southern Districts and South East, will soon turn his attention to the 2024 Country Championships, which kick off on the weekend of February 17/18.
After riding for Matthew Dunn in the Northern Rivers qualifier at Lismore on the Saturday, he’ll jet south to his old stomping ground on the Sunday, where he will team up with Martin Stein when taking on the Southern Districts qualifier.
“I’ll go to Lismore, and I’ll let my manager organise the ride, but hopefully, I’m on the top seed for Matt, and then I’ll fly down to Albury and ride for my first boss, Marty Stein,” Loy said.
“He has an Indian Soldier going in it, and my younger brother (Josh) isn’t far from starting his trials for Marty, and hopefully, we can get a win.”