GOOD FRIENDS: Jockeys Matt McGuren and Ben Looker muck around before race four on Ramornie Handicap day. Both have rides in the Grafton Cup.
GOOD FRIENDS: Jockeys Matt McGuren and Ben Looker muck around before race four on Ramornie Handicap day. Both have rides in the Grafton Cup. Adam Hourigan

Racecourse rivals share Grafton Cup dream

RACING: Jockeys Matt McGuren and Ben Looker would love nothing better than to win their hometown cup.

While McGuren is on 60-1 chance I'll Miss You in today's $150,000 G McMullan Contracting Grafton Cup (2350m), Looker will ride Kiwi galloper Sacred Day, a 12-1 chance.

McGuren leads the Northern Rivers Racing Association Jockeys' Premiership with 48 wins and Looker is second with 36 and a half.

The 29-year-old McGuren has landed 49 winners in the NRRA this season, but taken fewer mounts as he battles weight issues.

"I haven't been riding as much as I was but it's still been a good season,” he said. "It's my first ride in the Grafton Cup too. Obviously I'd love to win it, but I am tickled pink to have my first ride in it.”

Looker, 28, is also enjoying a great season. Aside from his success in the NRRA region, he has ridden another 60 or so winners at tracks on the eastern seaboard.

"It's been a whirlwind year,” he said. "Ridden almost 100 winners.

"I got married as well (to Priscilla) and rode my first stakes winner, Victorem, as well. Can't do much better than that.

"Be great to win a Ramornie or a Grafton Cup.”

Born in Glen Innes, Looker joined Grafton trainer John Shelton's stable at age 12.

"Had my first ride when I was 14,” he said. "John taught me everything. He's a great man.”

While he lives at Port Macquarie, Looker feels he is still a Grafton boy.

He enjoys a good friendship with McGuren and is happy to sing his praises as well.

"He's a good, close friend and he works very hard on his weight - just struggles with it and deserves every bit of success he gets,” he said.

Sacred Day, Looker believes, just might win him a Grafton Cup.

"I've had three or four rides in it but Sacred Day is probably the best chance I've had,” he said.

"He's got a very good form line, the Kiwi, and is trained by Tony Pike, who also brought (Doomben 10,000 and Kingsford-Smith Cup winner) The Bostonian over here.

"It would be a dream come true (to win the Grafton Cup).”



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