The newest addition to Queensland’s jockey ranks has made an immediate impact as he follows in the footsteps of his Group 1 winning brother.
Daniel McGillivray, the younger sibling of Brisbane jockey Matthew McGillivray, booted home his first winner on day one in the saddle at Roma on Saturday.
In just his third competitive race ride, the 21-year-old partnered the Craig Smith-trained Battle of the Bush Finalist, Malibu Affair, to win the Open Plate (1000m) by 0.8L.
Daniel rode showjumpers as a child in Malaysia and gained experience riding work for the Daniel Meagher stable in Singapore.
Struggling to crack one of the world’s most competitive racing jurisdictions, Daniel has taken a leaf out of Matthew’s book and made the journey to Australia to work at Smith’s Roma stables.
“I was riding one or two a day for Dan (Meagher) but I wanted to try and get more experience and make it as a jockey,” McGillivray said.
“I met Craig Smith at Matthew’s wedding in 2018 and told him that I wanted to be his apprentice and I made the move on Boxing Day that year.”
What followed has been a frustrating wait to be approved for a licence, which was finally green lit earlier this month.
After some nervous moments in his first two race rides, McGillivray shook the monkey off his back in the third race of the day.
“Craig told me that Malibu might be my first winner and he was right,” McGillivray said.
“He’s a good horse for me because he’s teaching me how to ride. I’m new to it and the horse knows what to do. You give him a little dig and he says ‘grab hold’.”
“And, you couldn’t ask for a better boss than Craig. He’s down to earth and has supported me the whole way.”
Daniel said his brother’s win aboard the Ciaron Maher and David Eustace trained Quality Seeker in the Class 4 Plate (2212m) at Eagle Farm spurred him on even further.
“When I saw Matt had ridden a winner I knew I had to get one as well,” he said.
Matthew also started his career under the tutelage of Smith before completing his apprenticeship in Brisbane.
Last year he notched a maiden Group 1 win when partnering the former Garry Newham-trained filly, Winning Ways, to win the 2019 Queensland Oaks.
Matthew said it was pleasing to see his younger brother showing early promise, and that he looked forward to watching him progress through the same ranks.
“Working for Craig in Roma can be tough … you can have 45-degree days during Summer and then mornings where it’s minus two-degrees in Winter,” he said.
“But working for Craig teaches you to become a real horseman.
“Craig said he is similar to me and has a good seat on a horse.”
Matt McGillivray has now notched 52 winners for the season after a winning double at the Sunshine Coast on Sunday.
It followed a winning quartet at the Sunshine Coast on February 16, and a double at Grafton last Thursday.
Daniel has a long-term goal of following his brother to Brisbane or even trying to make a fist of it in Melbourne or Sydney.
“But for now I just want to focus on my style and improving my race fitness,” Daniel said.