Herald Sun


- @Mat­tHer­aldSun matthew.stewart@news.com.au

CHAD Schofield is 21 but says he feels 28.

It’s been a rol­lick­ing, at times heart­break­ing, jour­ney for a one-time rough diamond who is now mid-transit on his ca­reer and life odyssey.

Schofield has just re­turned from 11 weeks in Eng­land, based in New­mar­ket, and a cameo back in his home town of Dur­ban in South Africa.

He rides for three weeks in Mel­bourne, be­gin­ning at Flem­ing­ton to­mor­row, be­fore a six-month stint in Hong Kong.

In many ways Schofield re­trac­ing his life path.

He grew up in Dur­ban and spent a few days there re­cently, rid­ing at the fa­mous July meet­ing, and caught up with mates he hadn’t seen for seven years.

“It had been so long, it was great. They all came to the races to see me ride,’’ he said.


Schofield left South Africa at 14 and spent four years in Hong Kong, where his jockey fa­ther Glyn was con­tracted.

There will be a sense of home­com­ing but also a de­ter­mi­na­tion to match the greats.

“They (Joao Mor­eira, Dou­glas Whyte etc) are the best jock­eys in the world. It will be a chal­lenge, but I’m look­ing for­ward to it,’’ he said.’’

Schofield is young, but there is a sense his ca­reer has reached a ma­jor junc­ture, from the roller­coaster of the past two years to great ma­tu­rity and clar­ity.

The early part of his ap­pren­tice­ship was a breeze, cruis­ing down from Syd­ney as a 17-year-old, slot­ting in as sta­ble rider for David Hayes, run­ning third in the premier­ship.

When he con­tro­ver­sially split with Hayes two years ago, Schofield ap­peared to some, in­clud­ing chief stew­ard Terry Bai­ley, a kid in a dan­ger­ous rush.

“It be­came one thing af­ter another,’’ Schofield said of a se­ries of on and off-track woes.

Big wins, such as Shamus Award in the 2013 Cox Plate, came amid nu­mer­ous run-ins with Bai­ley over his ag­gres­sive rid­ing style, which led to a spate of care­less rid­ing charges and two for the far more se­ri­ous of­fence of im­proper rid­ing.

He was de­fi­ant, putting him at odds with Bai­ley.

There were also the ter­ri­ble falls; a bro­ken back, neck, both arms, a wrist and an el­bow. Then, in April last year, his sis­ter Whit­ney’s hus­band, jockey Nathan Berry, died.

For a teenager, Schofield had ac­cu­mu­lated a great deal of bag­gage. “A learn­ing curve. Hope­fully my life has turned the cor­ner. It tough­ened me up,’’ he said.

Travel of­fers no es­cape from heartache, but Schofield’s re­cent for­ays have pro­vided per­spec­tive, par­tic­u­larly on the nuts and bolts of rac­ing and rid­ing.

He rode out for Ed Dun­lop at New­mar­ket for 11 weeks, win­ning twice from 25 rides on the mag­nif­i­cent tracks of Eng­land, in­clud­ing the fa­mously un­du­lat­ing Ep­som Downs.

He learnt skills he says will keep him away from Bai­ley’s door, learnt more about horses and the ca­sual pa­tience of train­ers such as Dun­lop.

“I loved rid­ing out in the morn­ings, an hour on each horse. They’d travel out in a herd, down a street, and the horses en­joyed ev­ery minute of it,’’ Schofield said.

He said jock­eys rode in a rhythm, “work­ing through their gears, all about get­ting them to travel’’, and were in less of a hurry than jock­eys here, in­clud­ing his for­mer self.

“One thing I learnt and will def­i­nitely bring back is the whip is the last re­sort. And the bump. I now re­alise how costly it can be to a horse,’’ he said.

“I think I’m a smoother rider now.’’

When Hayes hired Schofield as his sta­ble rider, the wise old heads scoffed; a baby-faced teenager thrown to the wolves.

Hayes knew some­thing but the diamond was rough. Now, at his feels-like age of 28, Schofield is on his way.

 ??  ?? Chad Schofield at
Port Mel­bourne beach yesterday. Pic­ture: COLLEEN
Chad Schofield at Port Mel­bourne beach yesterday. Pic­ture: COLLEEN PETCH
 ??  ??

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