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Larrikin shapes up for Melbourne spring

After 40 years as the voice of racing for the BBC in the UK, Australian Jim McGrath now hopes to make name for himself as the owner of a big-race winner.

McGrath made an annual trip home to call the Melbourne Cup for English listeners for 20 years until he stepped away from the binoculars in 2013.

Larrikin, a horse he bred and which is trained by his son Brian, will run in Saturday’s Ladrobrokes Classic at Caulfield in the hope he can go well enough to take his place in the Victoria Derby two weeks later.

Brian had tried his hand at racing journalism in the UK before realising training was his calling and McGrath didn’t try to talk him out of it.

“My father said do something that you love doing because you’re going to be doing it for the rest of your life,” Jim McGrath said.

“Brian’s dedicated to what he’s doing, just as I was.

“He’s at work at three o’clock in the morning and he’s back there again in the afternoon.

“As any trainer will tell you if you’re going to do the job properly it’s 24 hours, seven days a week.”

Jim McGrath raced the colt’s dam Red Margarita in the UK where she was trained by David Elsworth who brought Persian Punch to Australia to finish third in two Melbourne Cups.

“The reason David bought her is because Red Margarita is out of a half-sister to Persian Punch,” McGrath said.

“I went into a partnership with three other people and bought them out when she finished racing.

“I brought the mare to Australia and bred this fella.”

McGrath now concentrates his racing ownership in Australia.

He sent Red Margarita to Australia believing an opportunity exists to breed a good stayer and the colt by Poet’s Voice is her third foal.

Larrikin gave Brian McGrath his first winner at Geelong when successful at $101 in July.

He has since run an unlucky fifth at Moonee Valley and was again inconvenienced when he beat two horses home in the UCI Stakes at Flemington on October 2.

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