Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

In 1978, when Jeffrey Lloyd was a slight, 16-year-old apprentice, he finished third in the Durban July on 50-1 outsider So Humble in a contest won by Politician.

Forty years later, the 56-year-old, 53kg jockey has the strength and determination of men half his age and has been given a last chance to win SA’s flagship race on July 7 before he retires at the end of the season.

Lloyd has ridden in the July 25 times for a number of places, the most recent being third on Chesalon in the 2012 renewal. The July is the only South African major to elude his grasp.

Lloyd won the national jockeys’ title six times (finishing on 313 wins for the 1991-92 season to break Muis Roberts’s long-standing record), the Mauritian championship five times and, after suffering a stroke in 2013 staged one of the most talked-about comebacks in racing history to win an Australian title in 2016 and again in 2017.

He resides and rides in Brisbane, Queensland.

Kuda Insurance will be sponsoring Lloyd’s final riding trip to Durban following trainer Justin Snaith’s announcement that he had booked the veteran on Made To Conquer, his up-and-coming stayer who won last Saturday’s Lonsdale Stirrup Cup and has been priced up at 16-1 to win the Durban July.

Snaith said: "Made To Conquer continues to improve with each run and he has the type of older horse profile that wins the July. Carrying 53kg, one has to fancy this son of Dynasty’s chances. Nothing would make us happier than to give the legend Jeff Lloyd his first July win."

Roberts, the South African riding legend who won the UK title in 1992, had the July as his final bucket-list item and managed to win it in sensational fashion on Super Quality just before his retirement in 1996.

There will not be a dry eye in the house if Lloyd can pull off a similar feat in front of his former home crowd.

There are no legends running at the Vaal on Thursday and this is the kind of card that can yield huge exotic payouts.

There are two scratchings in race 8 over 1,400m, which will make the task easier for Huyssteen, a course and distance winner who runs in the silks of businessman Braam van Huyssteen of Tekkie Town fame.