For Kody Nestor, a Melbourne Cup Day non-TAB meeting at Dubbo Turf Club is the perfect place to have a final ride.
The well-known Dubbo jockey will step away from a life in the saddle after Tuesday, an ongoing battle with weight and injuries taking a toll.
It’s been 11 years since he had his first ride and it’s been a career which has included rides from the glitz and glamour of Randwick to the red dirt of the outback at Birdsville and almost everywhere in between.
“I’ll go out there and do my job and it’s a good meeting to end on,” he said.
“It’s a low-key meeting at Dubbo, a non-TAB and this is where it all started. But it’s just another meeting and then I’ll go for a few beers and a feed tomorrow (Tuesday) night and then I’ll probably end up trackwork on Wednesday morning again.”
That “few beers and a meal”, most likely a steak, might not seem like much to many but for the bulk of Nestor’s life he has missed out on things like that.
Always one of the larger-built jockeys on the circuit, Nestor had a continual battle with keeping his weight down while some falls in recent years resulted in time out of the saddle and more struggles to maintain fitness.
Almost everyone, whether they have an interest in racing or not, knows jockeys have to be strict on themselves in order to stay in the game but Nestor stated he doubts people know how much hoops put themselves through.
“It’s really something you’ve got to turn into a lifestyle,” he said.
“Every day you go to trackwork, you come home and you look at noms (nominations), acceptances and whatever else and then you’re at the gym with the sweat gear on and you might be running 10 or 11 kilometres and then you’re in the sauna for an hour.
“If you’ve got racing the next day, you’re back in the bathtub for another sweat for a couple of hours and you’re living on black coffee and cigarettes and it’s something you’ve got give 110% to and sometimes things don’t go the way and you get the dirts with it all but at the end of the day it’s no good doing it halfhearted.
“You’ve got to be willing to put the hard yards in day in, day out, whether you’re riding at Enngonia or Royal Randwick.”
While there were plenty of tough times, Nestor spent seven months out after coming out of the saddle at Narromine late last year while he was also involved in a horror fall at Mudgee in late 2015, he absolutely loves the sport.
Taking out the inaugural Country Championships Qualifier at Dubbo Turf Club when riding Dane De Lago for his uncle Peter is right up there in terms of highlights, as is winning the Birdsville Cup.
Another standout memory is winning with Izababe at Wellington when the gelding was carrying a hefty 62kg.
Nestor, who will have three rides in Tuesday’s meeting, now plans to take up his trainer’s licence to stay involved in the sport.