RIDE TO SUCCESS: Grafton jockey Matt Paget made the decision to become a jockey when he was 14 years old.
RIDE TO SUCCESS: Grafton jockey Matt Paget made the decision to become a jockey when he was 14 years old.

Paget decided on a career on the track at 14

WHAT do you want to be when you grow up?

It's a question many of us were asked. It's an easy question for some kids, but not everyone ends up being what they wanted to during their early school days.

When Grafton jockey Matt Paget was asked what he wanted to be when he grew up, the idea of being a successful lawyer sprung to mind. This all changed at the age of 14 when someone suggested the idea of becoming a jockey.

"At this stage of my life I had not even patted a horse, or ever been to a horse race," Mr Paget said.

With his family liking the idea of him becoming a jockey, it was time to get his school principal on track with his career decision.

"The school agreed to let me take six months off to complete a TAFE course which taught me all about horses and introduced me to the industry," Mr Paget said.

Since undertaking his jockey apprenticeship more than 20 years ago, he went on to achieve many career highlights which include winning the Gosford Cup, Tamworth Cup and the Ballina Cup.

"Working with great Australian trainers such as Lee Freedman has also been a big highlight," Mr Paget said.

Winning a race in this week's July Racing Carnival would be another highlight to add to his list as he prepares to ride in both the Ramornie Handicap and the Grafton Cup.

"I'll be riding Villamill in the Ramornie, and Phrases in the Grafton Cup," he said.

"I'm going in confident."

Highlights aside, there is also the serious side to a racing career which requires jockeys to maintain an appropriate body weight.

"I have to be around the 54-kilo mark come race day," he said.

"Walking, healthy eating and the sauna help me meet my goal weight."

The father of three small children is not sure if any of them will want to follow his career path.

"There are so many opportunities for young jockeys these days," he said.

"I may not have ended up becoming a lawyer, but some might say I'm the lawyer of the track," he said.



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