Bush jockey dreams of a Ramornie
FOR Grafton jockey Matthew Paget, there is no better sound than hearing the crowd as he takes his horse out to ride in the Ramornie Handicap.
"It's a special time of year, the town really comes to life and the atmosphere is just amazing," Paget said.
"Once I get up there though, and you're away, you're in a world of your own. It's just all the hooves thundering around you."
For Paget, who moved to Grafton 10 years ago and has ridden in every carnival in that time, the dream is to hit the line first in one of the Grafton features.
"It is the dream. When you ride out in the country, you probably don't think you're going to ride a Cox Plate or Melbourne Cup, so it's my ambition to win the Grafton Cup or the Ramornie in my career."
He's been close a few times. In 2003, Turaga bolted from the back of the field to be beaten a long neck into third by the Allan Robinson-ridden winner Sir Breakfast.
This year, Paget likes his lightweight chance Freddie Fox Trot, trained by Les Kelly, save for a horror draw at barrier 14.
"The barrier is a bit awkward, but he's got a bit of toe about him, and there's lots of horses with speed, so hopefully he'll sit up among them," he said.
"With the track looking like it's been favouring frontrunners hopefully he can be there."
Paget paid tribute to the condition of the Grafton track given recent rain. "It's in great condition, and if we get another day of fine weather I think it will hold up well," he said.