Racing against family time

24 Mar
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Jason Taylor in the enclosure before a ride on the Gold Coast. Picture: Christie Perrin

By Christie Perrin, Bond Journalism Student

Gold Coast-based jockey Jason Taylor dedicates himself to the sport of horse racing, yet as a consequence, juggles his schedule to find precious family time.

His wife Alana, 40, and six-year-old daughter Jessica, are not only his biggest supporters but are proud of his commitment to being a successful jockey not only in Australia, but also in Singapore, Mauritius and New Zealand.

Since leaving school at 16 to pursue his racing career, he has won many premium races such as The Stradbroke Handicap.

“I was also very active and involved as the Vice President of the Queensland Jockeys’ Association where we helped apprentice jockeys and working jockeys improve their pay and the safety of their rides,” Mr Taylor, 45, said.

However, being so passionately involved in his jockey career results in an immense amount of his time going towards work instead of family.

“A typical week for me is Monday morning wake up 3:30am, riding track and exercising horses then home 6 am,” Mr Taylor said.

“You then either are in the office the rest of the day organising your week with horses you are riding and going to, or preparing to go to race meetings.

“Some of those race meetings are a distance away like, for instance, a Grafton meeting on the Tuesday, Brisbane meeting on Wednesday, Rockhampton on Thursday and Ipswich on Friday then Gold Coast or Brisbane on Saturday and the Sunshine Coast on Sunday.”

With horse racing taking up every day of Mr Taylor’s week, finding time to spend with his wife and daughter is difficult.

“It is hard for me when my daughter has to go to her school diary to try and find a day that we can do something, while she’s at school, because on the weekends I am always definitely racing,” Mr Taylor said.

“It is basically very difficult being away from the whole family on occasions where some weeks I’m fleetingly seeing them for a couple hours.

“It’s a great but challenging feeling being a father and juggling the demanding jockey working career at the same time.”

Mrs Taylor adopted the role of his manager in 2001 to be able to spend more time with her husband and become more involved in his career.

Mrs Taylor said she had to book him on respectable rides whilst also aiming to maintain loyalty to previous contacts.

“He had to give up winners to keep connections he had already formed in the racing business and then the races he didn’t have rides in, I would sell his ass and try and get him on rides,” Mrs Taylor said.

“I gave up managing Jason in 2009 to do my last IVF treatment, and also to raise our daughter and balance our family.

“Jess and I are great supporters, if we don’t go to the races to watch Jas we support him on TV.”

Mrs Taylor and Jessica always watch Mr Taylor’s rides but fret about his safety.

“Many jockeys we know have been killed, so that’s always in the back of our minds,” Mrs Taylor said.

“We even watch the races on the phone while I do school pick up.”

Jessica said she loved watching her Dad on television and telling her school friends about the trophies he wins.

“I think it’s cool dad being a jockey because he gets really big trophies and one time he let me hold a trophy,” Jessica said.

“I go to the races to watch Dad and call out to him in the enclosure and we wave at each other, it is special.

“I miss him every day he is riding but am so proud of him and love watching him on TV.”

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