RIDING HIGH: Darkening ridden by Matt McGuren eases across the line to win Race 1 at the Clarence River Jockey Club.
RIDING HIGH: Darkening ridden by Matt McGuren eases across the line to win Race 1 at the Clarence River Jockey Club. Adam Hourigan

MAGIC MATT: Leading Grafton hoop brings up major milestone

RACING: With a a line of four horses storming side by side down the Tweed River Jockey Club straight, a last ditch lunge from Grafton jockey Matt McGuren on board race-favourite Alatora was worth more than just any other race win.

The head victory over Jameslea World (Carla Dougherty) on Sunday brought up a major milestone for McGuren, riding a century of winners this season at a 17% strike rate.

While that was the official 100th winner, for the young hoop he had already claimed the milestone after a winner was rubbed off his record earlier in the year for testing positive to cobalt.

"In my own head I had already cracked the 100 at Armidale during the week,” he said. "I wasn't worried about it heading into Armidale, to be honest the 100 has always been at the back of my mind, it is not a priority for me though.

"It is a great feeling to have cracked the 100 though. I did it last year during the July Carnival, but now I still have that ahead of me.”

It has been a long road for the champion jockey, who has had to travel a lot more this season picking up a regular weekend racing stint on the Gold Coast.

But the hundred seemed a long way off two weeks ago when McGuren heard a loud snap after being collided into by another horse while racing at Gunnedah.

"One ran into me during a race, absolutely t-boned me on track and I got my foot caught between the two horses,” he said. "I have been riding the past two weeks with a broken foot. I just keep going.

"I can't earn as much sitting on the sidelines as I could sitting on their backs, so I just push through the pain.”

In fact the jockey has barely taken a holiday this season, having only one week off all year and even then taking the family north to Evans Head, so he could still saddle up some track work for Murwillumbah trainer Matthew Dunn.

"I have put a lot of time in the saddle this year, and I am not planning on taking any days off soon,” he said. "You just have to keep chipping away, I have got my foot in the door now and I am not taking it back out.”

McGuren is a man who believes you need to always keep looking forward, so much so he only waited one race before notching winner 101 and leaving the milestone in the dust.

McGuren leads the Northern Rivers Racing Association jockey premiership and is sitting 10th on the Racing NSW overall premiership with 81 winners in the State.

McGuren continues racing this week with rides at Tamworth today and the Gold Coast on Wednesday and Saturday. McGuren will miss out on the next race meeting at this home track this Saturday which will be run in conjunction with the Grafton Truck Show.



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