By Michael Lee – Singapore Turf Club
South African jockey Callan Murray has not taken too long to open his Singapore account after he showcased his much-vaunted polish aboard surprise winner Ganassi in the $20,000 Open Maiden race over 1200m on Sunday.
The 22-year-old did not have much joy at his four rides at his first day at the office on Friday, but three rides into his second day, he was already visiting the Kranji winner’s circle.
Arguably not with the one he had expected (he could only finish a fading fifth aboard the better-fancied Mon Energy one race earlier), but Murray rode the $148 chance like he was the best horse in the 13-horse field.
A maiden in 10 starts with not even a placing to show for in Brisbane, Ganassi did not set Kranji on fire either at his debut for trainer Daniel Meagher, fading to last after racing prominently early in an Open Maiden race over 1200m on February 3.
Not one of the best beginners on Sunday, Ganassi was, however, bustled up by Murray to take up a prominent spot before he was finally able to come across after 300m.
Once the 370-race-winning Murray had Ganassi striding along at a steady cadence in front, he threw out the anchors to establish a decent gap of two lengths on the chasing pack led by Pennsylvania (Shafrizal Saleh) and Atlantean (Juan Paul van der Merwe).
Upon straightening, Murray bided his time a little longer before going for broke at the 350m. Though quite tall for a jockey, the former South African champion apprentice jockey still looked well co-ordinated in the way he pushed his mount out, wielding the stick in the left hand only to give a couple of reminders late in the piece.
With neither Pennsylvania nor Atlantean putting much of an indent into the margin, Ganassi’s cheeky run had well and truly trumped his dozen of rivals. Stardice (Amirul Ismadi) did issue a late challenge on the inside, but the bird had already flown.
Ganassi fell in by 1 ½ lengths from Stardice while third place went to another swooper, Another Show (Daniel Moor), three parts of a length away from Stardice. An Australian-bred four-year-old by Snitzel, Ganassi clocked 1min 10.54secs for the 1200m on the Long Course.
Murray, who last rode in Hong Kong – at two separate stints – where he racked up six winners including two at Group 3 level, was glad he had put that much-needed first winner out of the way sooner rather than later.
“I’m rapt. I’m really happy I’ve got a winner on the board, and a big thank you to Daniel Meagher for his support,” said the Johannesburg lad.
“I didn’t ride this horse in trackwork, but I saw his Polytrack trial was pretty good. When I see his action, it’s quite obvious he can do it (make all).
“I bounced him out and I was a touch hard on him early, but he galloped to the line very well. It wouldn’t surprise me if he went another furlong.”
Meagher heaped praise on Murray for a daring but well-executed ride but did not forget the people who have been with Ganassi from Day 1.
“He trialled really good the other day (on February 21 when a short-head second to Zac Ace), but this bloke is a good jockey and rode him very well,” said the Australian handler.
“He rated him as good as he could possibly do. They went quick early, but it was good he was able to give him a breather.
“It’s good for Callan, but it’s also a good result for the owner, the Heran Racing Stable. They are from Australia, they already have Snip with me and they also support my brother Chris in Australia.
“I don’t know where we go with Ganassi from here. We’ll just take it one race at a time with him.”