08/27/2002 11:00PM

McGregor gets back into swing

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EDMONTON, Alberta - With 22 years of riding experience behind him, Christopher McGregor has been a stalwart at Northlands for nearly two decades.

But at age 43, admits McGregor, "My body is not as willing to take the abuse as it used to be."

McGregor was tossed from a mount last fall when his horse wheeled coming out of the starting gate, and while he carried on, McGregor knew something wasn't right.

Doctors found he had a badly damaged rotator cuff and advised McGregor that he needed time off. It was not until early August that his name appeared in the program again.

"I'm not as young as I used to be," said McGregor, "and I decided that in order to come back and be competitive I had to let my shoulder heal completely, and it wasn't until July that I really felt strong again. I wasn't prepared to come back until I was at the top of my game."

McGregor is regularly getting four to six mounts a night, and after the Canadian Derby last Saturday he headed for Hastings Park, where he had eight mounts on Sunday with Northlands dark because of its yearling sale.

McGregor came out of the eight-race experience unscathed, and said it was as good an indication as there is that his body is back to 100 percent.

"The shoulder held up well, so I'm back to being confident that I can handle the day-to-day routine again," said McGregor "All I know is that it's sure nice to be back."

* The long weekend of racing starts Friday, with an allowance for older horses featuring Gray Aras, Robnroy, and It Is.