No longer pounding the pavement by foot but on a bicycle has made jockey Stephen Baster fitter and stronger.
That in turn has led to the 42-year-old being one of the in-form jockeys of the spring, riding at least one winner at each of the past five Saturday meetings.
“I’m the fittest I’ve ever been,” Baster said.
“I get with a crew from the Mornington Cycling Club and it’s got me fit without the pressure of doing a lot of running.
“Having a lot of winners helps your confidence,” he said.
“I was overseas and at Wadham Park for a while and I’ve been back three or four years now.
“Normally your career would be going downwards now but I’ve been lucky enough to get with the right trainers and on the right horses and it’s worked out well.”
Baster rides work at Flemington for Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott and guided Cismontane to a Melbourne Cup berth via his win in the Lexus Stakes.
After New Zealander Jon Snow was ruled unfit to take his place in Tuesday’s Cup and with Cismontane to carry 50kg, well below Baster’s minimum weight, the jockey thought he would be watching the race from the jockeys room until being snapped up by Willie Mullins for Wicklow Brave, one of three runners for the Irish trainer.
“At such short notice I couldn’t get down to the 50 kilos and I said to Gai she needed to find someone else who would be stronger at the weight as he’s a hard ride,” Baster said.
“The 54 kilos with Wicklow Brave is what I ride every week, so that was ideal.
“On paper he only looks an average ride but on his replays he’s had no luck and after watching them I’m really happy.”
It was 10 years ago Mahler gave Baster his best Cup finish when third behind Efficient.
“The rest of the time I’ve ridden lightweights that have probably been making up the numbers,” he said.