From bull rider to jockey

IT IS an unusual progression - bull rider to jockey.

For 19-year old apprentice jockey Matthew McGuren, it’s not strange at all.

McGuren has ridden bulls and horses since an early age and on Saturday rode his first winner at Casino, taking out the K and J Sawmilling Maiden Handicap (1200m) in thrilling fashion.

The promising apprentice jockey showed maturity beyond his years to storm home to win by a short-half head aboard six-year-old Felicity Firth-trained Almas Lass.

“It was great to get my first win, it was a huge thrill... I wasn’t quite sure if I actually won the race,”McGuren said.

“It was a wet track but the horse handled the conditions beautifully.”

McGuren says he only started riding as an apprentice on Boxing Day and had plenty of detractors questioning his issues with weight.

“I’ve been around horses all my life and when I decided to become an apprentice jockey there were a few people who said I was too heavy,” he says.

“I had to lose about 10kg but it’s been worth it. I had to go on an intense diet and walk two hours a day... apart from all the track work.”

Talking to McGuren you sense he has what it takes to be a successful hoop in a competitive sport which can make or break you.

“It’s always been my dream to be a jockey, I love being around horses and I definitely what to make it to the top... I’m very focused and dedicated,” he says.

McGuren’s boss Alan Ryan says his baby-faced buck is a typical country youngster who is driven to succeed.

“He’s a good kid who has plenty of confidence. He wants to do well... his eyes are firmly set on being successful, he’ll go hell for leather,” Ryan said.

So what is more frightening? Putting your life on the line atop of a 1t bucking beast or a 450kg ball of horse flesh?

“Bulls are definitely harder to control... you have no idea what they're going to do,” says McGuren.

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