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Sparkling Doncaster double puts spotlight on McGrath

CORK has a knack of producing top-class jump-jockeys and young Jeremiah McGrath could be another.

Jonjo O'Neill, Norman Williamson and Davy Russell, to name but a few, are all products of the Rebel County and a Doncaster double from McGrath yesterday showed that he's one to watch.

The 21-year-old is thriving under the tutelage of Nicky Henderson, for whom he rode Loose Performer to victory on Town Moor.

But the former amateur is not just solely reliant upon the Seven Barrows maestro -- as evidenced by his powerful winning ride on Noel Chance's Gores Island in the opening novice hurdle.

McGrath has already experienced his fair share of peaks and troughs. His career reached its zenith last May, when Henderson's Eradicate landed the Swinton Hurdle at Haydock, and has followed a symmetrical level of promise with 15 winners this winter.

However, life as a jumps-jockey is rarely a cakewalk, with McGrath having spent his 21st birthday in hospital after a bad fall at Cheltenham in December, in which he was lucky to escape with just bruising to his back.

Now back to full fitness, the young rider is hoping to continue his progress as the build-up to Cheltenham gathers pace. "Things are going great and that's my first double," he said. "Nicky is a great boss and because Barry (Geraghty) is in Ireland, there are often a lot of rides available during the week."

Chance will be one of the first to attest to the skills of McGrath after Gores Island struck in the opener, in which the Gold Cup winning trainer's 14/1 shot had to be driven out to beat Sixty Something by a half-length.

Loose Performer and McGrath later came home alone in the two-runner novice chase. Henderson's odds-on shot impressed on his chasing debut at Leicester, and this time enjoyed what was tantamount to a public school after Edge Of Town was pulled up following a bad mistake at the 10th fence.

McGrath said: "I've struck up a good relationship with this horse. I've won three races from three starts now, including a point-to-point at Barbury Castle. He has a lot of ability."

Irish Independent