Hard work for young jockey
Paul McKay was born and bred in the small eastern Southland town of Wyndham into a family passionate about the racing industry.
McKay admits his career as a jockey wasn’t a stellar one although he did have some highs having ridden 92 winners before blowing out with his weight by the time he was 18.
He is still in the game as a successful trainer with 40 winners to date.
But it’s the success of his 20 year-oldson Shaun whose career as a jockey that is giving him the most pride.
Shaun McKay was named Apprentice Jockey of the Year at the Cambridge Jockey Club Awards and is already mapping out a long future in the racing industry.
Both father and son work at the family’s racing stables just outside of Matamata, training the next champion horse and jockey.
Shaun showed no interest in racing as a youngster other than to occasionally muck out the stables when needing money for his BMX or motocross riding.
When he wanted to leave school he asked his father about working at the stables.
Now three years into his four-year apprenticeship, Shaun has already ridden over 100 winners.
He admits his success hasn’t been easy.
‘‘It’s just hard work that has got me to where I am,’’ said Shaun.
‘‘Some days I will practise my technique out in the shed on the mechanical horse and video my riding.
‘‘Dad and I will critique it and he will show me the positives and the negatives.’’
Mondays are big days in the McKay household as the nominations for the race week are released.
‘‘It’s onto the phone to organise rides for the coming weeks. But with Shaun’s success, he is the one who is starting to get the calls from trainers,’’ said Paul.
Shaun’s life revolves around the alarm clock, meaning he is on the track at 4.30am.
Hoping to remain as a jockey he is on a strict eating programme and occasionally a burger.
He hopes to work offshore, maybe Australia or Hong Kong, but for now it’s about finishing his apprenticeship and listening to his dad’s advice about how to ride that next winner.