Paget retires from racing on a winning note
FORMER Ballina Cup winning jockey Matthew Paget surprised everyone in the Northern Rivers racing community with his sudden retirement from the sport.
The popular 41-year-old is a regular on Northern Rivers tracks and decided to step away after winning a race midway through a meeting at Coffs Harbour earlier this month.
Paget who started racing in 1995 said it had been on his mind since registering his 1000th win last year.
“I’ve got some arthritis and there were a few injuries that were starting to catch up with me,” Paget said.
“I left school as a teenager to start riding, I’m not really qualified for anything else but a job popped up outside of racing that I’ve decided to take on.
“I was still getting plenty of decent rides up until my last day but the dream of riding in a Melbourne Cup was definitely behind me.”
Paget started his racing career in Adelaide before having early success in Victoria under trainer Lee Freedman.
He ended up at Brisbane as his stable jockey and was an apprentice of the year and Ipswich Cup winner.
He suffered his worst injury there and was out for eight months with a broken arm, collarbone and pelvis.
“I had to get around in a wheelchair for a while,” Paget said.
“If I ever got too cheeky my mates would roll me into the corner of a room and leave me there.
“My plan was to eventually go to Sydney and I made it as far as Port Macquarie before turning back.
“I’d been told it would be impossible to make a decent living racing in the country and I was determined to prove people wrong.”
He set-up shop at Grafton in the early 2000s and has won most of the major races on the Northern Rivers with only the Lismore Cup eluding him.
His final run came with a win on In Ya Skyrocket at Coffs Harbour.
“I always wanted to go out on a winner and they always say in this industry that you’re only as good as your last race,” Paget said.
Paget said he originally wanted to take on the television commentary role on Sky Racing which Gary Kliese has held for a number of years.
“I always told Gary that I could do a better job and he said I would be perfect for it, too” Paget joked.
“Every year he told me it was going to be his last but he signed a new contract recently and I thought that’ll do me.”