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Spotlight On: Adrian Layt

3 minute read

Adrian Layt has seen almost everything racing has to offer and the veteran jockey has put family first in his move to North Queensland.

The hoop and his family moved to Townsville following the diagnosis of his son, Liam, with Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

Liam, one of four children, was diagnosed with the debilitating disease that causes a progressive loss of muscle function. Sadly, there is no cure.

The devastating news came through during the peak of the Sydney COVID lockdowns.

Layt was living with his mother in Queanbeyan, a move that allowed him to travel to the races each day as his family home was in a restricted lockdown area.

"I was on my way to Tuncurry races when I received Liam's diagnosis,"Adrian Layt said.

Layt, alongside his wife Carolina, made the brave decision to pack their lives up in Sydney and move north in chase of warmer weather.

"The warmer weather up here is better for Liam," Layt said.

"The cold weather slows him and his muscles down a bit, but since moving up here he hasn't slowed down. He has been flying around everywhere.

"He is going good at the moment. All of his tests have been fine and he went down to Brisbane in April with his specialist and they will keep monitoring him.

"He is still getting around fine and isn't in a wheelchair yet. He does get tired quick, but he is on steroids to keep his muscles strong."

Carolina and Layt's three boys, Liam, Rocko and Charlie, have all settled into their new surroundings in Townsville well.

"If they are happy, I am happy. My wife has a good job and we have settled in," Layt said.

"From the business point of view, it probably wasn't the ideal decision, but from a family point of view, it is an easy decision."

Layt was always destined to work in the racing industry after he was 'born on the track'.

His parents met at the trots and, when he was old enough, Layt started his riding apprenticeship under the tutelage of his father, the late Neville 'Nifty' Layt.

At the age of 17, Layt took up an opportunity to complete his apprenticeship under Les Bridge.

It was a life changing decision for Layt as the move to Sydney created a close bond for life with the champion Randwick icon.

After finishing his apprenticeship, Layt moved to England where he rode.

However, with a lack of financial upside riding overseas, he returned to Australia where he worked closely alongside his father.

"[You] should never work for family," Layt laughed.

"I was helping Dad after he won the 2011 Magic Millions with Karuta Queen when I returned from the UK.

"We probably had about 30 horses in work and although the relationship didn't break down, the best thing for both of us was when I moved to Sydney and kicked off again with James and Bart, and also Anthony Cummings before getting a good gig with the Snowdens'."

Layt returned to Sydney in 2012 where he spent the next seven years riding work and provincial meetings for Peter and Paul Snowden.

"I enjoyed riding good horses and especially educating young horses before they stepped up in town," Layt said.

"King Of Sparta, Kings Legacy, Redzel - they're all horses I had a fair bit to do with early on."

It was also during this time where Layt's relationship with Bridge really blossomed.

Such was the pair's connection, they even planned on going into a training partnership together.

"When we got Liam's diagnosis, I was going to work with Les," Layt said.

"I was going to do time on the ground as his foreman and then evolve into training partners.

"We gave up a lot to do the best we can for Liam."

Such was the gravity of the opportunity presented at Layt's feet.

The decision came around the same time that Classique Legend stamped himself as one of the world's best sprinters when destroying his opposition in The Everest.

"We were waiting for him to run in The Everest and then announce it after that," Layt said.

"For the game we live in and work in for our life that was the way I wanted to go.

"It certainly is something you aim for after you finish riding, but in my heart I know I have made the right decision (moving north).

"I still speak to Les a lot, check in and see how he is going almost every day."

The pair usually saw eye-to-eye across a variety of horses, however, Layt laughs at the 'little grey' that slipped through his fingers shortly before his move north.

"(Bridge) was always pretty well spot on and we have always been on the same wavelength because Larry Olsen taught me when I first got to Sydney with Les," Layt said.

"We've always thought very similarly and he was one that got under my guard."

The 'little grey' Layt speaks of is Bridge's latest star, Group 1 Randwick Guineas winner and brilliant Doncaster Mile winner, Celestial Legend.

Another grey raced by leviathan owner Bon Ho, Layt chuckled looking back on one of the first times he sat on the horse.

"I remember that little horse before I left, he was barely a two-year-old at the time," Layt said.

"He might have been a yearling and Les had an opinion of him immediately. I said, 'I hope he grows into it boss because I can't feel it at the moment'."

Fast forward three years and Layt and Bridge still communicate most days, although Layt has a bit more time on his hands now than he used to under his old boss.

"You are a millionaire with time here, you just have so much time on your hands," Layt said.

"I bought a boat recently so spend a lot of time fishing, camping and crabbing."

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