Brave effort earns McGuren July's major award
SENIOR SPORTSPERSON: For three months, Grafton jockey Matt McGuren was sidelined from racing by a jaw that was broken in four places when a horse kicked him.
The injury might have seen others call it a day, but while McGuren said the injury was a "reality check", it wasn't enough to see him quit racing.
"It was pretty confronting, after being around horses for so long you take their strength and size for granted," he said.
"To be put literally on the ground like I did that morning it was pretty confronting and it was an inch between life and death. Where it kicked me, an inch higher and I would have been a vegetable.
"It was a big reality check for sure, but once horses are your blood they're hard to walk away from."
It took McGuren a while to return to the winner's circle and find his form, but once he did the hoop was unstoppable, with a stellar run culminating in a sensational July Carnival where McGuren had six wins and six seconds including a winning South Grafton Cup ride.
In almost a third of the races across the July Carnival, McGuren was in the saddle for a first or second place ride and for his efforts he has claimed the Jetts Fitness Senior Sportsperson of the Month title.
His efforts also saw him win a maiden Jockey of the Carnival award from the Clarence River Jockey Club, something he is especially proud of.
"It's always hard for local jockeys over the racing carnival to get a ride with all the big guns in town," he said.
"I was lucky enough to not only get some rides but some quality rides too, let alone some winners."
The winners McGuren guided to victory included the Marc Quinn-trained Cogliere in the South Grafton Cup, and he said the confidence he gained from some good form before the carnival put him in a good position.
"I was having quite a bit of luck in the week prior where I had eight wins in seven days,"he said.
"Leading into the carnival it really put me on a high, it felt like I couldn't do anything wrong. Everywhere I was putting the horses they would excel."
With leading jockeys from across Australia making the journey to Grafton for the July Carnival, the efforts in securing the Jockey of the Carnival weren't lost on McGuren.
"I usually struggle to get rides on the major days but this year not only did I have rides but I had some quality rides and to get six winners and six second places was pretty good," he said.
"It's a great statistic so to have that was great.
"With lots of jockeys from out of town coming to Grafton you're always trying to show them that you're just as good as they are, even if they're on some better dollars. When they come to town and they're coming on our turf we try to keep the money in town, so to speak."
The accolades continue for McGuren - he has also won the Northern Rivers Jockey Premiership for the third time for his late-season run of winners.
"To come back and have a good tail end of the season and be able to win was really good," he said.
"Over the last month it was something within reach so I really tried to knuckle down and try and get better rides and get wins to secure the premiership and to be able to do that with three months out (from injury) was just incredible."