When he claimed his first winner on Champions Day, jockey Callan Murray’s face beamed as he was led into the winner’s enclosure.
By the time he’d picked up his third trophy of the day all he could do was shake his head in disbelief.
To be able to ride one Grade One winner, the highest level you get in racing, on a day is a feat. To ride a treble, which included the day’s main event the R4-million Premier’s Champions Challenge, at that level is phenomenal.
He managed that feat aboard Deo Juvente in a thrilling finish that saw the pair come out tops against two of the main contenders in Legal Eagle and Nother Russia. The three-way duel in the closing stages sent the crowd, a good one for the final big event of the Highveld season, into raptures.
“Words can’t describe the day I’ve had. It’s so amazing. I was awake at 4.30am, only needing to be at work at six, but I couldn’t sleep. I just had a gut feeling about today and it’s been so amazing.
His other visits to the winner’s box were with Mustaqeem, who looks a serious racehorse, when winning the SA Nursery (Gr 1) and on Rafeef, both horses trained by Mike De Kock, in the Computaform Sprint (Gr 1).
“It’s unbelievable to ride horses like this,” said Murray.
Many racegoers had made their way to the Johannesburg track to sample some of the delights offered up in the Intercontinental Village. Foods from South Africa, Lebanon, India, Greece and China among others were found in abundance while the stage allowed each country to showcase performances reflecting their respective heritages.
While Murray was the big winner on the track on Champions Day, Ronel Britz ended up being the lucky racegoer to walk away with the R25 000 cash prize. There were also five lucky winners who earned themselves laps around the track as part of the visit by the Ferrari Club to Turffontein Racecourse.
Champions Day saw the curtain come down on the Triple Crown and Triple Tiara with Al Sahem claiming victory in the SA Derby, a race that tests the stamina of the three-year-old crop over 2450m while Wind Chill bagged the Wilgerbosdrift SA Oaks, for the fillies, in impressive fashion.