Winning comeback meet for McIver

HORSE RACING: Chris McIver, who has ridden in Brisbane with great success, still calls Bundaberg home and he took the chance to re-ignite his career at the Boxing Day meeting in the city.

The 24-year-old, who has out of action for long periods in 2011 due to injuries, took just three mounts in his comeback day and after finishing second in his second ride aboard All Significant, he returned to the winners' list on Out of Character in the maiden plate.

The affable McIver was born in Dysart but he moved to Bundaberg with his parents, former long-time top country jockey Rod and Linda, when he was a child, and he did his primary schooling here before also attending Bundaberg State High School.

At the age of 17, he became apprenticed to Alan Jones in Rockhampton, and he quickly established himself as one of the best young riders in the Central Queensland area.

Three years ago, McIver moved to Brisbane to further his career, transferring to Liam Birchley, and he rode "a bit over 40" winners on metropolitan tracks, continuing his run of success even after losing his claiming allowance when his extended apprenticeship expired in December 2009.

"But this year I have had two shoulder surgeries, one at the start of the year, then I had only been back six weeks and I did it again, and Bundy was my first meeting back," McIver said.

"It's all good now but I only took three rides, because fitness-wise, I'm terrible, but my shoulder feels good - it's got to be good to ride on this track."

McIver was "surprised" that Out of Character won so well, by eight lengths, after being placed at just one of her first six starts, but he rode her a treat.

He has ridden only occasionally at Thebeban Park over the years, the previous time being at the Bundaberg Cup meeting a couple of years ago, but after spending many childhood days at the track with his father, he always likes coming back.

McIver said his father retired from riding 15 years ago and now works for the railways in Moranbah, but his mother still lives in Bundaberg and she was at the track on Monday to cheer him on, and he also took the chance to spend some time with his extended family while here.

"My nan and pop also live here but all my five brothers work either in the mines or Melbourne, but most of them were home too, so it was good to catch up with them," he said.

A natural lightweight, McIver was a featherweight 37kg when he first started out in the industry and he weighed in at 46kg even after Christmas lunch.

He would eventually like to ride in Melbourne but for the time being, he has moved back to where his career started, and he has another three engagements at Thursday's meeting at Callaghan Park.

"I'm moving back to Rocky for a couple of months 'til I get going again because it's too hard to get rides in Brisbane at the moment after a year off, but I'll move back down south when the time is right," he said.

"I also want to get my riding weight up to 52kg again for extra strength and so there's less dead weight to carry.

"But wherever I finish up, I'll be happy because I just like being around horses - they will always be part of my life."

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