McEvoy hungry for more cup glory
KERRIN McEvoy is meticulous.
From training and riding to keeping up with the latest in fitness and the racing industry, the star jockey doesn't miss a beat.
It's been a decade since he last won the Caulfield Cup - a day he remembers well, when he saluted aboard All The Good for Saeed bin Suroor and Godolphin.
He'll saddle up second-favourite Youngstar on Saturday for Chris Waller, and while a lot has changed in 10 years for McEvoy, there's one constant he knows he cannot let slip. A hunger to learn that still keeps him ravenous.
"It's easy to say that you never stop learning, and it's the same with this game," he said.
"I think now, you're a bit more sure of what you need to do. I think as you get older, and the more wins you get, the more you can back yourself in. That helps when it comes to making a split-second decision in a big race.
"I look back at the Caulfield Cup 10 years ago and I think, 'geez, I was young then'. But I actually wasn't that young. I was 28.
"You'd like to think you're more aware of what's required than what you did back then. I'm always looking to improve and it's a good way to attack things."
McEvoy, who will turn 38 on Wednesday, admits the jockey's room at the Heath will be markedly different than that day in 2008.
He likes it that way.
"There's a few older (ones), but a lot of young kids as well. I think that keeps you on your toes," he said.
"It's good young talent. (There's) lingo (to keep up with), and while everyone gets along, there's different groups talk more than others. You've got your closer colleagues … it's an interesting vibe in the jockey's room, because obviously there's good banter but at the same time, you go out on the track and you're playing for your own team."
Team McEvoy is a family affair for the two-time Melbourne Cup-winning hoop - the four kids in tow a major change from 10 years ago.
Wife Cathy is a Payne, sister of Michelle, with Charlie, 9, Jake, 8, Rhys, 5 and Eva, 2, all becoming more aware of just what Dad does for a living.
They loved, in particular, McEvoy's second-consecutive Everest win aboard Redzel last weekend - especially Rhys, who eyed the miniature version of the jewel-encrusted $320,000 trophy, worth about $47,000, early.
"On Monday morning … he was walking around with his little Bertie Beetle wheelie-bag and I said 'what have you got in there, mate?'," McEvoy recalls.
"He said 'I've got the Everest trophy, I'm going to take it to show and tell'.
"I had work to do, and Cathy couldn't go there, I said 'you can't take that, mate. No one's going to be there to look after it'. He said 'don't worry, Dad, it'll be fine, I'll look after it'. I had to take that out of his bag. But the kids are getting that bit older now, so they are able to enjoy it and know what Dad's doing.
"They know that the big wins mean something. That's exciting to see their little faces, as well. My dad was a jockey, and Cathy's family were really into it, so it's bred into them a bit and they love being around the horses."
Cathy, who he says handles the natural stress of being a jockey's partner "pretty well", and the kids will shift from Sydney for Melbourne Cup week - a ritual to "kick the week off" and be part of the parade.
Talking about his family marks a moment of excitement for McEvoy, one of Australia's best staying jockeys, who calls his "even keel" his greatest strength.
"Whether it's Wednesday at Caulfield or a Caulfield Cup day, a nice even-keel approach and always be on your toes and ready for anything," he said.
"You've got new rides today, and you've got to try and climb the mountain with them.
"You don't want to be made to look like a fool. It's the same as a cricketer getting belted for 150, or you don't want to get out for a duck.
"It's all about doing your best for every occasion and that's what I pride myself on."
Work away from the track is another area where McEvoy's methodical nature is evident.
He trains hard with personal trainer Trent Langlands - who works closely with the likes of McEvoy and fellow star Hugh Bowman with Lifecycle Fitness, focusing primarily on core stability - and has just started using float tanks to both recover and switch off.
Langlands, who will this week fly from Sydney to Melbourne to train the pair ahead of the Cox Plate, said he stays out of the riding side of things.
"I just try and put them in balanced and unbalanced situations, and try and put them in as many different environments as I can that challenge them," he said.
There's a lot of core work, with McEvoy particularly focused on keeping his thoracic area mobile after suffering a broken T6 vertebrae in a fall in 2010, but little in terms of gruelling, high intensity training - jockeys can't afford to suffer three days of delayed-onset muscle soreness.
It's agility, stability, balance and endurance.
As a student, Langlands said McEvoy was just about as textbook as they come, showing interest in every aspect of his training.
"I think the word you could use is methodical," he said.
"Every time we come into the gym for a session, it's not like with a lot of athletes who will do whatever the trainer says.
"He wants to know every single exercise that we do, how it's going to benefit him, how it's going to improve him being on a horse. He's so professional - wants to know about the body and what it's doing … stability, balance and how it's going to improve that.
"We've been getting some great results and he's not the type of bloke that would hang around if he felt it was detrimental.
"Those one percenters can only be of benefit."
McEvoy doesn't suffer pain since the fall, but closely monitors how he uses his body and stays mobile - a focus every day in training and recovery.
"I read up that a few of the football players were doing (the float tanks)," he said.
"It's great, because there's like 500kg of salt in the tank, so it's great for your muscles and recovery and to tune out in there, zone out and do a bit of deep breathing.
"You don't want to be claustrophobic, though."
There'll be no room to zone out today as he fights for the $5 million feature, with even a piece of jewellery key to the precise preparations.
"I've got a necklace I like to wear to the races - my wife gave it to me," McEvoy says.
"I take it off on the days I'm not riding. If I forget it, I get her to wear it. It's my one superstition."