Rookie riding high
KIRK Matheson will be chasing his first feature win when he climbs aboard John Shelton's Darshan Joh in the Iluka Cup (1200m) at Grafton race course today.
The 18-year-old apprentice jockey has won just two races in his short career but is likely to be carrying the weight of public money when the Iluka Cup field leave the gates at 4.03pm today.
"I'm rapt to get this ride for John. Darshan Joh has the best form in the race and I'm expecting he'll run well," Matheson said.
"I'm loving being a jockey; it's all I've ever wanted to do."
Matheson, originally from Casino, is apprenticed to Grafton-based trainer Gayna Williams but has picked up four rides for four different trainers today.
Beside Darshan Joh for Shelton, he will ride Everything Right for Williams in race one, Zaman for Marcus Wilson (race six) and Captive Way for Mark Lynch (race nine).
"He's a promising young rider and it's certainly handy to have a four-kilogram weight claim in a race like this," Shelton said.
"Darshan Joh has won seven races but under the benchmark conditions of the handicap will meet horses like Extra Exceleration, who have won three races, better at the weights.
"Under the old handicapping class system these horses would never race each other. Darshan Joh would be in open company and Graeme Want's horse would be in class three."
Shelton's own apprentice, Anthony Allen, was snapped up by Want to ride Extra Exceleration, but with only a two-kilogram claim and the extreme outside barrier, the young local hoop will have his work cut out to beat home his master's course specialist.
Darshan Joh has won two from two over the Grafton 1200-metre course and has notched all seven career wins at his home track.
"Hopefully from barrier four we'll get the run of the race, and hopefully from there we'll be winning," Matheson said.