How New Zealand based jockey Malcolm Hill lost 32kg and won his first race in 30 years

Horse Racing

How New Zealand based jockey Malcolm Hill lost 32kg and won his first race in 30 years

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

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A few years ago Malcolm Hill was an 85kg truck driver living in New South Wales, Australia.

On Thursday last (January 9) the 53-year-old Hill rode his first race winner in 30 years as a 53kg jockey at Tauherenikau.

How did he do it? Well, it all started when Hill decided he wanted to move back from Australia to his home town of Whanganui to spend time with his parents.

“Mum and Dad are in their 80s and I wanted to be closer to them,” says Hill, who rode 17 winners as an apprentice to Graeme Saunders at Te Awamutu in 1981

. He rode 18 winners the next season when he was just a kid and all together racked up 41 wins during his apprenticeship, and two after.

Then Australia beckoned — and as life took its inevitable twists and turns, Hill ended up in Darwin, where he rode eight winners.

Like many who never cracked racing’s big time he floated in and out of the industry, worked for a grain company, drove that truck and ate too much junk food.

While his abs disappeared, his love of racing never did. Hill mucked around with his own horses, training a couple in his spare time.

“I got a few winners too but nothing much,” he admits. With Mum and Dad getting older he came home, bumped into old mates and went down the local track.

He had been walking a lot to get fit and asked local trainer Jo Rathbone whether she needed a rider. He weighed 78kg.

Rathbone said she would do what she could.

“Some mates started telling me about amateur races and I thought that sounded good so I set myself a goal to get one of those licences.

“And I started dieting. I cut out all carbs and eat mainly fruit and nuts and some protein, like fish or chicken.

“I don’t starve myself. I still have three meals a day until I am full but the key thing is keeping active. You got to expend more energy than you take on board.

“And you have to do it gradually and be consistent. I reckon it has taken me nine months to get from that 78kgs first day back at the track to 52.5-53kgs now.”

After the weight fell off, Hill started to ride at jump outs but there isn’t a great demand for 53-year-old jockeys who haven’t ridden a winner in over 30 years. So Hill needed a horse and there are plenty of horses on online auction site GavelHouse.

He picked up a three-year-old Deep Field gelding named He’s A Gold Digger for “I think AU$6250”.

“I thought he was cheap and he is a lovely horse. Probably suited to a one-man trainer.”

So the new, slimline Hill applied for his trainer’s licence and thought he’d ask for a jockey’s one as well.

He got both and went to the races on Thursday as the proud owner- trainer-jockey of He’s A Gold Digger. It must be intimidating walking into the jockey’s room after 30 years — an old man surrounded by kids?

“Not at all. I walked in and here was (senior riders) Chris Johnson, Tony Allan, Darryl Bradley, and Robbie Hannam.

“I said, jeez boys, it is like I have never been away.”

Being back is one thing, winning quite another, but He’s A Gold Digger has speed and it was a point and hold on job for the former truck driver and his cast-off pony.

“He is a lovely horse and just needed to learn to relax, but it was bloody amazing. To be out there and winning again. I had dreamt of something like this and I still can’t believe it happened,” said Hill.

“I love it. I am still buzzing now.” Reprinted from the New Zealand Herald


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