Rousillon jockey boost
By GRAHAME TIMBRELL
JOCKEY Peter Graham, already locked in a three-way struggle with Allan Robinson and Greg Ryan for the State's riding premiership this season, has taken four early rides at the Lismore races on Sunday.
Graham is locked with Robinson on 26 winners in the early stages of the NSW premiership and with Ryan (25) for the Country premiership.
Graham hopes that by riding in Lismore on Sunday he can get a jump on Robinson, who will not ride at the meeting.
"I will have ridden every day this week and I have to spend some time with my family," Robinson said.
However, Robinson and Graham will both be riding at at the Lismore Cup meeting next Thursday.
Graham's plum ride on Sunday is on the John Shelton-trained Sircolo in the $20,000 Lismore Workers Club Sky Channel Gold Rousillon Handicap (1400m).
Two starts back Sircolo won at Eagle Farm and then started favourite in the Newmarket at Ballina last Thursday and finished fifth to Good Timing.
Graham also has two other rides for Shelton ? on Fanqualo in the Lismore Workers Heights Bowling Club Class 2 (1000m) and Heroic Victory in the Lismore Workers Golf Club Class 1 (1200m).
His other early ride is on Strategic Queen for Bowraville trainer Dean Ahearn in The Directors Maiden Handicap (1000m).
The meeting on Sunday is sponsored by the Lismore Workers Club with free admission for all club members if they show their membership badge.
Graham, who is based at Port Macquarie, has always been one of the State's most successful jockeys, but has usually played the bridesmaid to either Ryan or Robinson for the Country premiership.
Last season he was well on the way to issuing a challenge but lost four months out of the saddle with a broken wrist after a trackwork fall.
However, this season he has set out to beat both of them and so far the plan is on track.
"Everything has just fallen into place," Graham said.
"The four months out of the saddle was a blessing in one way, because I had a good holiday, ate too much and really relaxed.
"Now I am really focussed and keen to ride as many winners as I can."
Graham booted home 109 winners last season despite his time on the sideline.
Bruce Compton, the Group One-winning jockey who is now combining race riding with breeding cattle and creating a vineyard near Kempsey, will ride the Grafton-trained Umatrick in the Rousillon.
Compton is the regular rider of the six-year-old, which finished third to Good Timing in the Ballina Newmarket last week.