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Wilson-Taylor’s rise from homeless to star jockey

 

By Jordan Gerrans

From homeless just a few years ago to the new boom apprentice jockey in Queensland, Kyle Wilson-Taylor’s rise has been nothing short of astonishing.

The 21-year-old has shown remarkable drive and determination to lift himself from  couch surfing, to living on the street, and now set to take Brisbane metropolitan racing by storm in the coming months.

The mature and polished Wilson-Taylor could have quite easily gone down the same path of many of his friends and family in his teenage years that put his entire family “in trouble", however racing has been his saviour.

Without his life and passion now as a jockey, Wilson-Taylor does not know where he would be.

“A lot of things in my personal life were quite bad, I did not have an option not to become a jockey,” the impressive youngster revealed.

“It was either become a jockey and chase that, or I do not know where I would be or ended up, I could have been on the streets or anywhere.

“It is something I love; things do not come easy that are worth it, so you need to chase it.

“I have worked hard and it has been worthwhile.”

R5-Hidden-Eyes-Donald-Baker-Kyle-Wilson-Taylor-8.jpgKnocked back on two different occasions to be apart of the Victorian apprentice jockeys’ program, Wilson-Taylor eventually moved across the border to NSW to get his foot in the door.

He was told he was not up to standard to start his path towards race riding in Victoria by local officials.

Born and raised in Melbourne, he spent time on NSW’s northern rivers before working his way further north again, up to the Darling Downs.

He quickly became prolific on the country and provincial circuit in Queensland, regularly heading home from a track such as Toowoomba, the Sunshine Coast or Gold Coast with a treble of winners at the meeting.

Racing has given the up-and-coming hoop a purpose in life, an opportunity to fight out of the homelessness he endured as a youngster.

“There was a family breakdown and to cut a long story short we basically became homeless,” he said.

“We were living mate's house to mate's house, couch to couch, it was not the best life.

“I could have kept going down that road and would have eventually been in a bad place.

“I have now chased the dream I have, and it has paid off.

“There is no back up plan, racing is my life.”

Growing up in suburban Melbourne, Wilson-Taylor did not have access to horses to learn his eventual trade but was put on the path to riding by his grandfather, who told him to chase a career in the saddle because of his slight stature.

And, on a school camp not long after, he rode a horse for the first time, instead of a push bike, and he was on his way.

Former jockey and SKY Racing presenter Bernadette Cooper believes Wilson-Taylor has what it takes to compete in the metropolitan ranks after dominating the provincials of late.  

“Kyle looks to be an exciting young jockey, I have watched him ride a lot of winners recently at the provincials,” Cooper said.

“I have spoken to him a couple of times; he is really well spoken, and he has a lot to offer as a three-kilo claiming rider in the city.

“I think he has proven that to everyone on the provincial circuit and now it is for him to keep a lid on things and be very professional and striving to learn as much as he can in the next 12 months to cement himself as a great young rider in Brisbane.”

KWT-april-2021-2.jpgAfter taking his first race ride in 2018, the 51kg apprentice has ridden 120 winners as of the middle of April.

He admits the sudden success he has found in the Sunshine State but has come somewhat as a shock, declaring he has always believed in his ability to ride a stack a winners, it has just come a little quicker than he may have expected.

For that, Wilson-Taylor thanks his boss Lindsay Hatch.

The experienced Toowoomba horseman has been there every step of the way in recent months, ready to give him a spray when Wilson-Taylor gets ahead of himself and also a pat on the back when he has done the right thing.

Hatch also gave former apprentice Baylee Nothdurft his early chances before he made the move to town, where he quickly became one of the leading riders in the state.

Wilson-Taylor has bided his time to take his talents to the city but will so in the near future, only recently being granted a metropolitan licence to ride.

He says he looks up to champion rider Michael Rodd, who he often goes to for advice, and just watches on from a distance to see how the Melbourne Cup winning hoop conducts himself in a professional manner.

“Hopefully in the next few weeks we can kick-off in the metropolitan area, I will not be getting ahead of myself, I will be taking it slow, but it is really something I am looking forward to,” he said.

“That is a credit to my boss Lindsay Hatch; I would love to be riding in town, but many apprentices make the mistake of going too early and that is something I do not want to do.

“I think I am ready for metro riding now and there is always room for improvement in those things.

“Lindsay has had a lot of good apprentices and is a great boss for me, he pulls me into line when I need it - I can get the clip over the ear at times - but also the encouragement as well.”

With a metropolitan licence now, the third-ranked provincial jockey this season for winners will consider a permanent move to Brisbane in the future but says nothing is official just yet.