Lloyd, Stefi magnificent in the Stradbroke Handicap

Having watched close mates and fellow riders Tyler Schiller and Dylan Gibbons break through for Group One wins, Zac Lloyd has finally been able to savour one of his own with a memorable Stradbroke Handicap triumph aboard Stefi Magnetica.

Last season’s champion Sydney apprentice, Lloyd is regarded as one of the country’s most promising young jockeys and has been knocking on the door for a major.

His moment arrived at Eagle Farm on Saturday aboard the Bjorn Baker -trained filly, the pair overcoming a wide draw and defiant challenge from bonny mare Bella Nipotina to narrowly deny her in the $3 million race.

“Results speak louder than words and it’s really good to get that Group One on my resume,” Lloyd said.

“I’ve had some great opportunities in the last year or so and I haven’t been able to capitalise, so to get the job done today in a very big race, it’s very special and hopefully that propels my career to greater heights.”

Lloyd said he went into the race confident he was on the right horse in Stefi Magnetica, who Baker decided to target at the Brisbane winter following her narrow second in the Group 1 Surround Stakes at Randwick in March.

The three-year-old settled well back in the big Stradbroke field but Lloyd was able to pinch ground along the inside before steering her to the middle of the track in the straight.

“I was travelling so well I was happy to go inside of them and she is really tough,” Lloyd said.

“I saw Bella Nipotina and I thought, she’s one horse you don’t want to be in a finish with, but she (Stefi Magnetica) was great.”

Stefi Magnetica became the first filly to win the Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) since La Montagna in 2006 while also emulating the achievement of her dam Mid Summer Music, who won the corresponding race in 2012.

Lloyd’s manager and father, former top jockey Jeff, was one of the first to congratulate him, saying he was immensely proud of his son – even if he didn’t follow their game plan.

“We went through the race for a couple of hours this morning and after a furlong I said, ‘well that was a waste of time’. He ended up on the rails and near the back,” Jeff Lloyd said.

“He has been crying out to win a Group One and to win it in Queensland, my hometown, I couldn’t be prouder.”

With a six kilo pull in the weights, Stefi Magnetica ($15) scored by a half-neck over a brave Bella Nipotina ($15) with Vilana ($4.80 betting fav) two lengths away third.

The runner-up’s jockey Craig Williams said the Doomben 10,000 winner was typically courageous under her 56kg topweight.

“Amazing horse. The stable said she’d improved coming into today,” Williams said.

“She offset a tricky barrier draw and was very gallant in defeat.”

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