Jockeys on track to reach magic milestones
RACING: Grafton jockey duo Ben Looker and Matthew McGuren are giving themselves the best chance to crack a century of race wins this season as both hoops sit out only one event on today's nine-race program at Grafton.
At just after halfway through the 2016/17 racing season both jockeys have easily surpassed 50 season wins, travelling as far as Sydney and Brisbane to gain extra starts.
McGuren is hoping to become one of the first Grafton jockeys to finish consecutive seasons with the magic milestone, and Looker is aiming to reach triple figures for the first time.
With a race card full of potential winners at his favourite track across Australia, Looker is poised to continue his fine form which has had him claim 60 wins already this season.
"My goal this season was always to ride 100 winners," Looker said.
"I have been doing plenty of kilometres in the car from track to track but it has been worth it," he said.
"I have been getting plenty of support this season, getting on the right horses in the right races."
Looker's 13% win rate has him ranked seventh among all country jockeys in Australia, and McGuren's incredible 46% placing rate has him in fourth.
With the two mates to come up against each other several times at Grafton today, it will be a chance for Looker to bridge the distance on the local jockey standings - and he believes he has the right rides to do it including second-up maiden runner Porn Star Pete (John Shelton).
The horse which was moved to Shelton's stables from North Queensland looks an impressive runner but Looker said with a rare health condition it could struggle with the late summer heat.
Porn Star Pete suffers from anhidrosis which causes the horse to not sweat thus trapping any heat in his body.
"These last couple of hot months really haven't helped him," Looker said.
"He is a smart little horse and really puts in work for John, but with the issue with his heat, it has been better to take it a bit easier on his trackwork."
Despite being saddled with a tough 59 kilograms, Porn Star Pete looks the likely front runner in a open field for the 3yo+ Maiden Plate over 1000 metres.
Looker will also ride a trio of starts for Grafton trainer Dan Want (Benasong, I Too Can Dance and Noble Ethics) in what has a been a winning jockey-trainer combination this season (10 wins).
McGuren's best bet comes in the form of Leon Davies' topweight Crooked Blaze in the Open Handicap (1200m).