Road Trip Has McGuren In Rhythm For Country Championships Ride

It’s a fair commitment to drive a 900km round trip to ride in a barrier trial but jockey Matthew McGuren did just that to give himself the best chance of winning Sunday’s $150,000 Newhaven Park Hunter & North West Country Championships (1400m) on Rhythm Is A Dancer.

Jockey Matthew McGuren

McGuren is based at Grafton and has already won two regional Championships this year, on Tribeca Star at Grafton and Auzstar at Tuncurry, but won’t be riding those horses in the Final.

However, if McGuren gets the job done at Tamworth and qualifies the Brett Cavanough-trained galloper for the $1 million Final he’ll be there at Randwick on April 6.

“It’s a shame I haven’t been able to keep the rides in Sydney but they’re the breaks,’’ McGuren said.

“That was the idea going to Scone, the Cavanough camp were keen to keep me on.

“They’ve offered me a few Highway rides of late and said if this horse gets through it’s my ride in Sydney so it’s definitely an incentive to go down.”

Cavanough will have two runners in the Tamworth race, with apprentice Braith Nock to ride Sting Jet, and McGuren has built an association with the stable through the trainer’s Northern Rivers base at Ballina.

The 33-year-old said Cavanough wanted his opinion on Rhythm Is A Dancer prior to the race and the trial, in which he ran second, on February 27 was the right fit.

“His form speaks for itself and when the opportunity presented itself I jumped at it,’’ McGuren said.

“Brett mentioned he’d be trialling at Scone and he wanted me to get a feel for the horse and it was the best opportunity I could find to get down there.

“I jumped in the car and went to trial him, he trialled up well enough to be very competitive in an open Hunter and North West heat this year.”

Rhythm Is A Dancer won a Benchmark 58 at last year’s Country Championships meeting at Tamworth, where he’s unbeaten in two starts, and rounded out that preparation winning the Country Cup at the Scone carnival in May.

That race was his fifth career win and the five-year-old only raced once in the spring for a close fourth on his home track in open company.

McGuren said everything he saw in his trial suggests Cavanough has the gelding ready to run a big race first-up.

“The trial was to boost my confidence in him as well and just to know the horse is going to be right, which Brett’s generally are,” he said.

“He’s reasonably straightforward, he does lay in a touch, and he should suit me.

“I was warned by a few jockeys that he can be a bit quirky to get on in the enclosure but he was fine for me. He should be primed and ready for the day.

“He’s very adaptable so depending on where he draws will dictate as to how we ride him.”

– Racing NSW

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