Weblog: A young jockey making a name for himself
Jerry currently rides exciting new arrival Simonsig in his work at homePICTURE: Racing Post
Here's to hoping I stay sound this season
My name is Jerry McGrath and I'm excited to be blogging for the Racing Post. With the jumps season really starting to get going, I'm aiming to share with you what I'm hoping will be a very good season for me.
Firstly, a bit about me - I'm 20, from County Cork and a conditional jockey with Nicky Henderson. I've been racing-mad my whole life and enrolled at the Irish apprentice school when I was 15. I was lucky enough to do my placement with Dermot Weld and I couldn't have wanted for a better introduction to racing.
Although the first time I sat on a racehorse was at Mr Weld's, I've been around horses from a very early age. I had a very horsey childhood, I evented to a decent level and competed in showjumping to a national level. I was lucky to be around good horses from a young age and those experiences stood me in great stead when I got into a racing yard.
Once I'd finished my placement with Mr Weld I decided to go back to school and complete my leaving cert (Irish equivalent of A Levels) and I worked for Brendon Powell during my summer holidays. I actually rode my first-ever winner for Mr Powell as an amateur in a bumper at Newton Abbot on a horse called Bathwick Quest. When I finished school I went back to Mr Powell's before moving to Mr Henderson last season and turning pro.
I'm based down at Mr Henderson's and ride out there most mornings. It's brilliant to be with a trainer like Mr Henderson and get to sit on such good horses. Recently I've been riding Kid Cassidy and A Media Luz in their work, as well as one of many exciting new arrivals in Simonsig. He's certainly impressed me with what he's been asked to do so far.
One day a week I'll ride out at another yard and I also ride out at Tom Symonds. He's not had many runners yet but I'm hoping he'll have a great start as he's a very good up-and-coming trainer.
Another who has given me plenty of opportunities is Alan Swinbank. He mainly has bumper runners but he knows the time of day when it comes to his jumpers and fingers crossed I can ride a few winners for him this season. Whenever I ride up north I try and go up early or stay the night and ride out for Alan the next morning as he has been great to me.
My main goal for the season is to stay sound and if I can do that, hopefully I'll be in with a squeak of the conditional title. Though I don't want to ride out my claim too quick as I think it is important to use my claim wisely and develop as a rider, which is something both Mr Henderson and my agent Dave Roberts are keen to help me do.
This week I'll be riding at Wetherby on Friday, although my weekend plans are uncertain at the moment. I've ridden eight winners so far this season, which matches the number I managed last season, and I have one winner of my 7lb claim left before I'm down to 5lb. That 20th winner will be an important milestone in my career and hopefully I can bring it up sooner rather than later.
You can follow me on Twitter @JerrymcGrath between blogs.