Grafton jockey's king of the kids

IN July last year Adam Hyeronimus arrived in Grafton armed with a saddle, riding gear, hopes and dreams.

A virtual unknown, the new kid on the block.

Just over seven months later down racing's meandering road to glory, the 18-year-old has graduated to 'king of the kids', currently leading the NSW country apprentices' premiership with 33 wins.

The son of former Sydney hoop Craig Hyeronimus and his wife Narelle, the sister of jockey Neil Paine, saddles up at Grafton today with eight rides on the nine-event program.

“I've had a bit of luck lately hopefully it can continue. I've got some good rides,” Hyeronimus said.

The kid's still humble, grounded. And with the guidance of his master John Shelton and 'surrogate mum', Shelton's partner Kay, and his own family, Hyeronimus' focus will remain on racing, hopefully not succumbing to the temptations of success, which often leads to youth of his age group losing dedication, mixing with the 'wrong crowd' and falling off the tracks.

“To be honest racing takes up the majority of my life and I'm loving it,” Hyeronimus said.

“I don't really have time for much else.”

He credits Shelton and his Cowra-based father as major influences.

“John's been terrific, I owe him a lot,” he said.

“And Dad rings me just about every day. He's probably been my biggest influence.

“He talks to me about all my rides, tells me what I should have done to improve.

“He's making me a better jockey and a better person.

“My best critic and biggest supporter.”

Hyeronimus arrived in Grafton after a short stint with Kevin Moses in Sydney.

“This is my first year. I didn't set any real goals but certainly it would be nice to win the Northern Rivers, country premiership, one or both,” he said.

“But what will be will be. I've been lucky riding a few winners, trainers are starting to take advantage of my claim and I'm getting rides.

“I just try and ride every race as good as I can, try and keep everyone happy.

“Having more experience is making things easier. Things are coming more naturally now.

“Rather than having to work everything out, I'm thinking a lot quicker and reacting.

“But I'm still learning.”

While Hyeronimus suggested rivalry existed with Shelton's other star apprentice Ben Looker, the former praised his stablemate.

“Ben's been terrific, he's a quality rider, a good bloke and helped me a lot,” Hyeronimus said.

“But I might have to joke around a bit and stir him if I can win one of the premierships.”

Hyeronimus suggested his best rides were Aussie Luau and Totally Grateful for Shelton and Best Advice, trained by Ross Stitt. Noting jockeys' reputations as notoriously bad judges, it might pay to keep a close watch on his other rides.

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