There are any number of exciting elements around Houtzen's A$2 Magic Millions victory, but none that compete with winning rider Jeff Lloyd.

The six-times champion South African jockey and Brisbane premiership leader is a medical marvel.

Don't take our word for it -- that description comes from his wife Nicola. Lloyd is best known in New Zealand for riding Nom du Jeu to win the Australian Derby at Randwick in 2008 for Cambridge trainer Murray Baker.

In March 2013 Lloyd suffered a severe stroke. Specialists feared he would have a second stroke, which they said would definitely kill him, so they put him in intensive care for two weeks.


Everyone, including his wife, expected Lloyd to retire.

On social media she said: "One would think after riding 5000 winners and 94 group ones around the world you would have lost your drive and your desire, and would have been satisfied to just enjoy retirement.

"But that is the furthest thing from the truth because even after looking death in the face, you still push yourself, still strive for excellence ... looking to keep improving yourself and always making sure you show our boys what it takes to make a champion in sport."

The 55-year-old now admits he came back to race riding too soon. "My timing was out, but I steadily improved."

He won the Brisbane premiership last season and leads it again. He recently rode seven winners on a card at the Sunshine Coast.

However, his bold display on Houtzen at the Gold Coast track on Saturday stands out. After two brilliant victories the locally-trained filly was the Magic Million favourite until she drew the outside No 21 barrier mid-week. One of the television presenters asked the pre-race question: "If you were Jeff Lloyd would you have negative thoughts when you walked into the barriers?"

That was quickly answered. If there has been a more positive first 200m to a feature race anywhere, no-one can remember it.

Lloyd said later: "I arrived in a confident state of mind."

Boy, was that obvious. He sprinted Houtzen hard out of the gates and the filly sprinted so quickly she not only crossed the 15 rivals, she was four lengths clear of the field when she got to the inside rail.

He won the race when he angled Houtzen towards the centre of the track on the home bend. The inside rail was "off" from the start of the day and the fast lanes were the middle to out wide -- disappointing for Australia's first A$10 million raceday.

The A$105,000 purchase held off the A$1.6 million colt Chaffeur, but Lloyd said his pre-race confidence evaporated. "I thought it was an enormous win because she never really settled at any stage, she really was buzzing throughout the race. To me she was really revved up today compared to last week.

"To back up a week apart, all the buzz that's around ... I was concerned when we went around to the start, she never really came back to me.

"I thought she might have been doing too much; she had had enough coming into the last 50 but she was entitled to."

Houtzen shortened to $7.50 (from $13) for the Golden Slipper, which trainer Toby Edmonds is almost certain to set the filly for. One TAB punter had A$10,000 on before Saturday's race.

The winning presentation was emotional for the usually relaxed Lloyd.

He was presented with the Nathan Berry Medal, in honour of the winning 20014 rider of Unencumbered, who died a few months later from an acute form of epilepsy aged 23.

Lloyd's wife Nicola is the aunt of Nathan Berry's widow, Whitney.