Geoff O’Loughlin weighed 56 kilograms and had just 2 per cent body fat when he “struggled” with his weight not being light enough.
Geoff O’Loughlin has one of the nation’s most successful country racing partnerships with his wife and trainer Belinda
O’Loughlin retired in 2010 because he struggled to keep his weight below 57kg
The Mount Gambier jockey returned to racing last week, aged 48
He’s not crazy. He’s a jockey.
Things could have been different had he chosen to take growth hormones and play professional soccer in England as a child. Instead, he kept his height and set his heart on becoming a jockey.
O’Loughlin, based in Mount Gambier in South Australia, rode 431 winners in his 22-year career.
Had he weighed less, he could have recorded more wins — a common story in the industry.
“My weight was just spiralling between race rides because you don’t race consecutive days … it got too hard towards the end,” he said.
When O’Loughlin retired in 2010, he weighed 56 kilograms. At the time, the top weight allowed in handicap races was 57 kilograms, leaving the Mount Gambier jockey a narrow window within which to compete.
Now a decade later and a couple of kilos lighter, the 48-year-old made his return to competition racing last week at the Penola Racecourse.
No-one was more excited than his wife, trainer Belinda O’Loughlin.
When the two raced together they achieved a success rate of 23 per cent winners and 43 per cent placegetters, one of the best strike rates in country Australia.
“I’ve put a lot of jockeys on since Geoff retired … (but) Geoff… he’s one of the fiercest competitors I’ve ever had,” Belinda said.
Boiling baths, long runs, one meal a week
Belinda recalls the decades in their relationship when Geoff would eat just one meal a week.
They would go for dinner with friends before a race and Geoff would ask to be picked up 5 kilometres down the road.
“And he would jog three quarters of the way home wrapped in great big thick jackets,” Belinda said.
The jackets were to help Geoff sweat more weight off before race day. There were lots of ways he did that.
“Public holidays made it hard in the country because the gyms would close so then you’re restricted to having hot baths to lose the weight,” Geoff said.
“I got to the stage where I thought I best … join the real world and get a job.”
Older, wiser and lighter
Geoff still has a three-days-a-week labouring job while he eases back into racing. He credits his job with helping to get his weight down.
“It’s constant movement, you’re just on the go all day,” Geoff said.
Belinda added: “He’s lost a fair bit of muscle bulk being older (as well) … he’s still able to maintain a reasonable diet.
“Hopefully this time around it will be a lot better for his body, it won’t be as stressful.”
The biggest stress is the nervous energy associated with getting back on the track.
“There was a fair bit of ribbing at first,” Geoff said.
‘I’ll have to prove myself again’
Although Geoff retired as a jockey, he always remained in the industry.
On top of full-time labour work, he has been helping his wife train their horses most mornings.
“There’re days where it’s hailing … and he’s soaked and he has to go in those wet clothes to work and then work an 8-hour day,” Belinda said.
“He’s never not worked for me, he’s been tireless.”
But, while he enjoyed his time “on the other side of the fence”, something was missing.
“There’s no better feeling than going full throttle on a thoroughbred in amongst a field; it’s a thrill that only a jockey’s going to get,” Geoff said.
That said, he is not expecting an easy ride as he returns to the racetrack.
“I’m by no means at my age thinking I’m going to step back in and all of a sudden I’m riding five or six days a week,” he said.
‘I missed him so much’
No-one is more excited about Geoff’s return than his wife, because she wants to “be able to share it with him again”.
“I got into training because it’s something Geoff and I did. I’m glad that coming back to race riding he’s got a chance to get those rewards back.
Their relationship aside, Belinda appreciates the determination Geoff brings to the sport.
“If he’s made a mistake, he’ll take that blame upon himself … he’ll own it,” she said.
“I’m definitely looking forward to him coming back and riding for me.”
Back in the saddle
Their horse Runbro may not have been a placegetter at Penola on Tuesday, but the O’Loughlins were not too worried. They have found the winning formula before.
The newswire division of Australian Associated Press is set to continue to operate with new owners.
AAP’s board on Friday confirmed that an agreement was in the final stages of negotiation with a consortium of investors and philanthropists led by Peter Tonagh.
The newswire, slated to close in late June, would now continue operating as AAP and provide breaking news, public interest journalism, sports coverage and news photography.
“I am pleased that, after months of discussions with various parties, it appears we have been able to secure a new home for AAP’s legacy of trusted news,” CEO Bruce Davidson said.
The sale involves only the news division of AAP, including text and photography, which currently provides reporting on general news, courts, politics, finance, racing and sport, plus images and video.
Other parts of the AAP Group will be retained by the current shareholders. This includes Medianet, Mediaverse, AAP Directories, Pagemasters and Racing operations and these businesses will continue to operate as usual.
Mr Tonagh said his consortium is committed to independent journalism.
“We live in a time where trusted, unbiased news is more important than ever. AAP has always delivered on that and we are committed to seeing that continue into the future,” he said in a statement.
“I’m looking forward to working with the AAP team to continue its great work and to find new commercial opportunities to ensure its long-term survival. “On behalf of the consortium that I lead, after consulting with staff, customers and other stakeholders, our consortium will provide more information about our future plan for AAP.” The new-look AAP will employ 85-90 staff, including around 70-75 editorial staff, and management, IT and support personnel.
The consortium will continue the AAP FactCheck service.
The consortium will engage with employees over coming weeks. AAP’s board announced on March 3 the entire operation would close on June 26, citing the financial impact of the increasing availability of free online content. It would have meant the loss of up to 500 jobs.
AAP is currently owned by Nine, News Corp Australia, The West Australian and Australian Community Media.
The newswire opened more than 85 years ago and its potential loss had been widely described as a blow to democracy.
Editor in Chief Tony Gillies described Friday’s news as a triumph for public interest journalism.
“Finally, a good news story for an industry that has been battered,” he said. “In the 95 days since the original March 3 closure announcement our journalists, photographers and editors have endured the anxiety of an uncertain future and the difficulties of the COVID-19 lockdown. And yet, they have been professional without exception, working as hard as ever.
“Their poise and resilience has been inspiring. The consortium is taking on Australia’s best.”
From that time, up to 20 people will be allowed at:
Restaurants, cafes and licensed venues
Beauty, tanning, waxing and nail salons
Spa, massage, tattoo and body-modification parlours
Museums, galleries, national institutions and outdoor attractions
Caravan parks and campgrounds
Weddings, religious ceremonies and places of worship
Wellness centres, indoor sporting centres, yoga, pilates, barre and spin facilities, community centres, pools
The four-square-metre rule still applies, and any businesses that are reopening need a COVID Safety plan.
Gyms and health clubs can reopen to up to 20 people at a time, but unsupervised free weight training and use of other gym equipment isn’t allowed, and low-contact indoor and outdoor sport is back on as well.
That includes dance, where one parent per minor is allowed to accompany.
The attendance limit on funerals will also increase to 50 indoors and outdoors.
Orchestras, bands and choirs will be able to have up to 20 people and universities and vocational training providers are allowed to increase face-to-face learning where they can.
Canberra’s Step 2.1 still encourages working from home if it works for employees and employers, with a gradual return to work flagged for consideration around mid-July.
Step 2.2 is scheduled to kick off from June 19, and looks to increase the limit for some businesses to up to 50 people, as well as reopening cinemas, amusement parks and play centres.
Victoria is easing multiple restrictions from 11.59pm on Sunday May 31 — so Victorians will be waking up to a new week and a new month with some new-found freedoms.
Up to 20 people will be allowed to gather at homes, including members of the household.
The 20-person rule also applies to indoor, outdoor or public space gatherings, but people have been urged to be safe and take precautions if they’re going to gather in groups.
Up to 20 people will be able to get back to group sport — as long as it’s outdoors, everyone stays at least 1.5 metres apart (so no contact sport) and it’s non-competitive (yes — socially distanced golf is back on).
20 is a special number — that’s how many people can also go to the following, all from that date:
Various distancing rules apply though.
Restaurants, cafes and other hospitality businesses can resume dine-in service for up to 20 patrons, subject to physical-distancing rules.
Like the ACT, up to 20 Victorians will be able to gather at a place of worship subject to the four-square-metre rule, 20 people can attend a wedding and up to 50 can attend a funeral (unless it’s at someone’s home — then a maximum of 20 people are allowed, including officiants and staff).
Victoria is also easing some travel restrictions from that time, including allowing people to stay at holiday homes, private residences or tourist accommodation (as long as there’s no shared communal facilities like kitchens or bathrooms).
Provided the 1.5-metre rule and the four-square-metre rule are in place, up to 80 people will be allowed at:
Restaurants, cafes, wineries, pubs, breweries and bars
Cinemas, theatres, museums and galleries
All provided that there’s no more than 20 to a group.
Nail and beauty salons, tattoo and massage parlours will also be allowed to reopen, and if gyms have classes, they must be limited to 10 participants.
Up to 50 people will be allowed at funerals.
From June 1, competitive non-contact outdoor sport, training and competitive non-contact indoor sport and indoor recreation activities will all be allowed.
Allowing competitive contact outdoor sport and training for contact indoor sport is flagged for June 25.
The top end doesn’t have to wait too much longer for their next phase to come into effect.
From noon on June 5, the Northern Territory will sail into stage 3 of their roadmap to ease restrictions — some of the most relaxed rules in the country.
From that date, all businesses, facilities and services previously restricted can resume, as long as they adhere to key principles.
Territorians will be able to:
Go to a bar without consuming food
Go to nightclubs, cinemas, theatres, concert or music halls and other approved entertainment venues
Take part in licenced gaming activities
Go to amusement venues, community centres and play centres
All previously restricted services at places that provide beauty therapy, cosmetic services, tattooing or body art can be accessed again from that time too.
There’s good news for sport lovers too — sports including football, netball, basketball and soccer can be played and officiated again, with supporters, and up to 500 people can go to an arena, stadium or community sport competition if spectators are in an approved seating configuration.
Sporting events with more than 500 people attending need an approved COVID-19 Safety Plan, and major events will be approved on a state-by-state basis.
The limit on non-work gatherings will be raised to 100 people — or 300 people for venues with divided spaces.
They’re ditching the four-square-metre rule in favour of a two-square-metre rule from that date, and based on that, all of these will be able to reopen or restart:
Gyms and fitness classes
Full contact sports and training
Playgrounds, skate parks and outdoor gym equipment
Beauty, nail, tanning and waxing salons, personal-care services, spas and saunas
Galleries, museums, theatres, cinemas and concert venues
Zoos, amusement parks and arcades
In addition to that exciting news, pubs, restaurants, cafes and bars will be allowed to serve alcohol without food and food courts will reopen for seated service.
The 100-person rule also applies to weddings and funerals.
Rottnest Island will reopen to the public on that date as well, and regional travel will be permitted throughout Western Australia, including into the Kimberley region (pending Commonwealth approval to remove the Biosecurity Area).
Access into remote Aboriginal communities will remain prohibited though.
Queensland has a little longer to wait — stage 2 of their roadmap is down for June 12.
That takes their gathering limit up to 20 at:
Public spaces including lagoons, playgrounds, skate parks and outdoor gyms
Restaurants, cafes, pubs, RSL and other clubs, hotels and casinos
Cinemas, theatres, auditoriums, arenas, concert venues and stadiums
Gyms, health clubs and yoga studios
Museums, galleries, libraries and places of worship
Outdoor amusement parks, zoos and arcades
Open homes and auctions
Beauty, nail and tanning salons, tattoo parlours and spas
Up to 20 people can also participate in non-contact indoor and outdoor community sport, with pools and community sports clubs also under the 20-person rule.
The attendance limit on weddings also goes up to 20 from that date, and funerals will be permitted 50 people maximum.
People can travel up to 250km for recreational purposes, with campgrounds, caravan parks and tourism accommodation set to reopen.
The 20-person rule also applies to camping, hiking and recreation in state and national parks.
There are slightly different rules for outback Queensland from that June 12 date.
Recreational travel is allowed within the outback if you live there, and hospitality venues can serve up to 50 people at a time — they might ask you to show proof of residence though, and that doesn’t permit for gaming and bars.
Stage 2 of Tasmania‘s roadmap to recovery doesn’t come into effect until June 15.
Much like many of the other states, up to 20 people at a time will be able to gather indoors and outdoors, including at:
Restaurants and cafes
Cinemas, museums, galleries, theatres and performance venues
Religious gatherings and weddings
Open homes and auctions
Gyms and boot camps
Beauty service providers and day spas
Playgrounds and park exercise equipment including outdoor community sport
Indoor sport, including pools
Up to 50 people will be permitted at funerals.
The 20-person rule also applies to camping, overnight boating and shacks, but border controls are expected to remain in place as part of this stage.
At the moment, the Tasmanian Government’s website says visitors to households will be reviewed as part of stage two — it’s not clear yet what changes could be implemented there, but at the moment, only five visitors are permitted at homes.
Australia may have the chance to bring their pets home from the US
New Qantas flights from Los Angeles and London to Melbourne have built up hopes Australian expats can take their pets home.
This report via the AAP:
Australians hoping to fly home during the coronavirus pandemic have been given new options with Qantas announcing limited flights to Melbourne from Los Angeles and London.
It also opens the potential for pets to be flown back to Australia. Previous special Qantas and Virgin Australia flights organised during the pandemic flew from LA to Brisbane.
Brisbane does not have the facilities to quarantine pets, forcing Australians planning to fly home during the pandemic to leave their pets in the US or opt not to return to Australia.
Under Australia’s strict border rules cats and dogs must arrive directly into Melbourne Airport and be quarantined at a facility at Mickleham, near Melbourne. The Australian government has requested owners of pets planning to fly back to Australia on one of the new Melbourne flights to contact Qantas and their chosen pet carriers to check on animal transportation.
NSW have had over 13,000 people in hotel quarantine
Berejiklian has provided an update on how the NSW hotel quarantine program has gone.
I wanted to share withyou this morning the fact that people assumed had finished but we are still welcoming Australians back from overseas in New South Wales. We have around 3,500 people still in hotels.
I wanted to provide an update to say that since the borders were controlled, we have had over 13,000 people in hotels in New South Wales.
One of the biggest unfolding stories at the moment is Cedar Meats.
The Melbourne abattoir has been linked to 62 cases, including a nurse, and aged care worker, and now a schoolboy.
Victorian politicians have been quick to talk about what a good job they have done containing the crisis, but there are still several days in late April with a big question mark hanging over them, as more information about who knew exactly what and when emerge.
I spoke to a worker at Cedar Meats who says they were scared to stay at the factory after the first case was annouced.
While some states, like Queensland, lifted some restrictions around families visiting each other in time for Mother’s day on Sunday, New South Wales and Victoria’s leadership has held firm, they said anything that is discussed at today’s meeting won’t be put in place by the weekend.
In case you are feeling a bit behind here are the biggest things that happened yesterday to get you up to speed.
Newmarch House operator Anglicare appointed a special adviser to guide its response to a deadly Covid-19 outbreak at the facility.
The cluster connected to a Melbourne abattoir, Cedar Meats, grew to 62 infected people.
SA recorded its first case in two weeks.
The NRL said players who objected to vaccines could apply for an exemption to train during the pandemic.
Media reports said the official race hotel in Abu Dhabi was sealed off late on Thursday (local time).
A report in Cycling News said riders, staff and journalists were not allowed to leave pending health checks.
The situation could have implications for the world track championships in Berlin. Danish rider Michael Morkov was at the UAE Tour until earlier in the week, and was due to join the Danish team in the German capital ahead of this weekend’s race.