No glamour, just winners
By TONY WHITE
GLAMOUR jockeys like Glen Boss, Darren Beadman, Craig Williams and the Cassidy brothers Jim and Larry may dominate national headlines, but when it comes to riding winners, Port Macquarie's Peter Graham is many lengths ahead.
The 38-year-old rider, who has a full book of eight rides at the Grafton TAB meeting today, is enjoying an extraordinary season.
Apart from the fact Graham has ridden in more than 1000 races this season ? easily the greatest number in Australia ? the lithe, 54kg, 172cm jockey, has punched home a career-high 142 winners with two months to go before the curtain falls on the 2005-06 season.
Graham is currently third in the NSW dominated national jockeys' premiership behind good mate, wise cracking Allan Robinson (157.5) and perennial premiership winner Greg Ryan with 149.5.
It is the third successive season Wauchope-raised Graham has ridden in excess of 100 winners.
Last season he rode 109 winners after missing the final month following a broken arm.
And just for those statistically minded, Graham raised a normally hoodoo subject when he revealed he had ridden in more than 1500 races without earning the ire of stewards and being suspended.
That's a truely remarkable record and one repeated stewards' room visitors like Malcolm Johnston or Allan Robinson would love on their portfolio.
Married to wife Karen and with three children, Jesse, 10, Cejay, 7 and Rori 2, Graham is one of the hardest working jockeys in the nation.
He regularly clocks up in excess of 60,000km a year travelling far and wide in search of winners.
"It's not as bad these days. I sometimes go in Robbo's (Allan Robinson) plane or another mate of mine's aircraft, then there's Bruce Compton, Marlon Dolendo and others who I take turns with driving," Graham said. "But there's still a lot of kilometres involved."
Graham is also a workaholic, his last holiday came after he broke his arm last year causing him to miss the Grafton July Racing Carnival.
"It (my job) doesn't allow me as much time at home with the wife and kids as I would like," Graham said.
"The school holidays haven't been much fun for them. I'd like to have more time off but it's hard to stop when your going good and getting rides off good trainers.
"I haven't had a real holiday since I can't remember when, a week here or week there maybe fishing is about the only time or if I get suspended or injured."
Considered tall in comparison to the average of his counterparts, Graham, like most postillions, engages in a daily war against the 'battle of the bulge.'
"Believe me I like a beer and a feed like everyone, but if I don't sauna every day or go for a run, my weight would get out over 58 kilos easily," he said.
"You've always got to keep working at it. It's never ending."
Hard work is paying off for Graham whose skill in the saddle has blossomed in recent years.
He mightn't ride champions, but he gives his mounts every chance. If they're good enough they'll win.
Graham enjoys riding at Grafton where he has ridden 15 winners this season to trail Darron Coleman by three in the local premiership.
However, Coleman is out of action indefinitely after smashing nearly every bone in his foot following a barrier accident during trackwork recently.
Coleman's foot was so badly injured doctors couldn't operate for four days until severe swelling subsided.
With winners aplenty and more to come, Graham has his sights firmly set on the Grafton July Racing Carnival.
"I missed last year. I've ridden winners over the carnival but never a Ramornie or Grafton Cup," he said.
"I should have some good rides this year and hopefully I can snare one of the big races."