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Robbie Fradd finds his passion post riding

13 February 2024

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By Jordan Gerrans

Just like a horse trainer does, retired jockey Robbie Fradd is building out his ‘boutique stable’.

After stepping away from race riding in late 2022, the former champion hoop has found his passion in retirement by mentoring the next generation of jockeys in the Sunshine State.

After initially taking apprentice Angela Jones under his wing at the suggestion of her master Tony Gollan, the respected Fradd is now expanding his horizons in the mentor game.

Jones – now riding as a senior – has been joined in the Fradd crew by her fiancé Kyle Wilson-Taylor in recent weeks as well as promising apprentices Emily Lang and Jace McMurray.

McMurray is yet to debut on race day but Fradd likes what he sees with the Gold Coast-based youngster.

Melea Castle also spent some time under the tutelage of the popular Fradd.

Fradd does it all with his team – he goes through replays and does the form but arguably most-important of all, he is there for a quiet chat or a piece of advice from a champion’s perspective in the sport.

“I am enjoying it, I can give them a lot of feedback – not just being someone that has ridden for so long but the mental side of it, as well,” Fradd said.

Kyle Wilson-Taylor Next Racing
Angela Jones Next Racing
Emily Lang Next Racing
Jockey Robbie Fradd in his riding days.

“I have been through a lot of that in my career and it is not easy, it is a very tough industry and I think jockeys need somewhere there that understands their side of things.

“I think rider's need to have someone there that they can call up if they have had a bad day – or even if they have had a good day.

“I look at it from a rider's point of view and not a trainer's point of view, who may see it differently to how I see it. I think that is where my role comes in and that is how I understand where they are coming from.”

Fradd has been in the mentor space for about a year and has been approached to take on more jockeys but he is keen to keep his numbers low with his ‘boutique stable’.

The 58-year-old wants to focus on the team he has now and give them his undivided attention.

Further down the line, potentially he will look to take on more but for now, he is happy with where he is at.

Fradd is a regular at the Jones and Wilson-Taylor household on a Monday morning so the team can debrief on their past week and look ahead to the coming days.

With Monday usually a non-race or trial day, it gives the jockeys and their trusted mentor time to reset.

“We go through the past week and we talk about what is coming up, I think that is really good as Monday is the one day there isn’t any races,” Jones said.

Jockey Robbie Fradd in his riding days.

“You get a little bit of time to stop and reflect – I really enjoy doing that with him. Even if it is not the racing side of it all, we get to step back and talk about life and personal life stuff.

“He is really good to talk to – even if you are not talking about racing – as he always has a good yarn or two. He is a great fella to be around.”

While Jones notes that she has improved as a rider on race day under the guidance of Fradd, she believes between her ears is where she has seen the most development.

“You might think you are pushing yourself as hard as you can, but Robbie will often show me there is more I can do,” Jones said.

“He pushes you to be better. Robbie has really helped with me using the whip in my right hand.”

Fradd rode Group 1 winners across the globe before he was forced to retire when he had lifesaving heart bypass surgery.

Following the surgery, he realised he couldn’t sit at home and enjoy retirement and needed to stay active mentally as he has done for the last 40 years in his riding career.

It was a phone call from champion trainer Gollan which sparked the idea when Jones was still an apprentice and it has all blossomed from there.

Jockey Angela Jones.

Fradd misses race riding ‘very much’ but says he has come to peace with the situation and is just glad to remain in an industry that has given him so much across his globe-trotting career.

“It is mainly about keeping them nice and relaxed on race day and taking each ride as it comes,” Fradd said.

“Each race is different and if you have had a bad ride in race one, it is about clearing your mind for race two and beyond.”

The 22-year-old Jones has kept Fradd on as a mentor even after finishing her apprenticeship and the retired hoop notes that she has grown in confidence in recent months.

“She has always had a mature head on her shoulders,” Fradd said of Jones.

In his mentoring role, Fradd likes to be hands-on and is a regular at the track so he can go through replays not long after the race with his team.

He notes that he doesn’t often have to tell a jockey they have made a mistake - that they usually already know themselves, can point it out and that he can just advise what they could have done better in that specific situation.

For Wilson-Taylor, it is all about the mental side of it when he approached the former jockey about joining his ‘stable’.

Wilson-Taylor won his maiden Group 1 during the recent winter and as Fradd is also an elite level winner in the Sunshine State, he is keen to tap into that knowledge.

“He is just really good for my head space,” Wilson-Taylor said.

“He talks about going into every race and race day with a clear mind and not taking things on from earlier in the day to later in the day.

Jockey Kyle Wilson-Taylor.

“It is something that us jockeys struggle to do at times and it is something the better jockeys are good at.

“And, Robbie is one of those great jockeys – he is a world-renowned rider – and I am very fortunate to have him helping me.”

Fradd has also recently started a new role as a Casual Education Support Office with Racing Queensland.

“I have grabbed it with both hands and I think there is a lot of apprentices that need that little bit of guidance and coaching,” Fradd said.

“I am starting to make a bit of progress with some of them and that is so pleasing because I can see the potential in them.

“If I can just guide and coach them a little bit more, I think there is a lot of potential in the apprentices here in Queensland. It is a casual position at the moment but you never know what the future holds.”