There is an adage in racing that says when the sport gets a hold of you it never leaves. It’s in your blood forever.
Former jockey Chloe Chatfield is a living embodiment of that unwavering passion.
Chatfield left racing in 2012 and with partner, trainer, Ben Pearce, welcomed two beautiful children into her life.
But despite retirement and parenthood, Chatfield has unfinished business.
Early mornings, long days and tireless travelling awaits her once again, but she is single-minded.
After four years away from the saddle, Chatfield is launching a comeback to riding.
“I’ve never really let it go and it’s always been lingering,” Chatfield says.
“It’s an itch that never leaves your blood, it feels the right time.
“To be completely honest I have never wanted it as much as I do now.
“I feel like a different person this time around, more mature and rounded.”
As a mother to Indi, aged 2 and Sienna, 7-months, Chatfield says she understands and is cognisant of how dangerous her line of work is, but she remains undeterred.
A medical journal of Australian study confirmed in 2009 that skydivers, motorbike racers, loggers and pilots face less risk of being killed in their chosen sport than jockeys.
Tragically each year Australia racing, on average, claims one life, creates one quadriplegic, causes one rider brain damage and leaves between three and five people so badly hurt in race or track falls they can never ride again.
Last May Melbourne Cup-winning jockey, Michelle Payne, required pancreatic surgery after a sickening fall at Mildura, her future career in the saddle placed in jeopardy.
It continued a horror run for Payne who suffered a fractured skull, bleeding on the brain and four broken vertebrae in two previous falls.
“I don’t really think about the risks because you can just as easily get hurt in a car crash,” Chatfield says.
“I’ve always been a confident rider who is willing to jump on anything.
“I’m not the sort of person who will let fear get in the way of chasing my dreams.
“With Ben and the kids I have the perfect family life, a return to riding just adds to it.
“A few people have expressed concerns, but they can’t talk me out of it.
“Ben is right behind me and has been the most encouraging.
“Although the money will be good I’m not doing it for financial reasons.
“I just miss it and I’m itching to get back.”
With renewed commitment, passion and determination, Chatfield expects to launch her comeback sooner rather than later.
“I hope to be back riding trials in about two weeks so soon after that,” Chatfield says.
“But I won’t be rushing and putting any sort of pressure on myself.
“I will take it easy and it might even involve a few bush meetings.”
RWWA: Julio santarelli