Citizen Reporter
4 minute read
29 May 2017
10:55 am

It’s Callan Murray’s Lucky Year

Citizen Reporter

Trainer thrilled with Callan Murray’s performance.

GREAT WIN. Lucky Year gives Callan Murray his first feature win in Hong Kong when he won the Grade 3 Sha Tin Vase over 1200m yesterday. Picture: Hong Kong Jockey Club

Young South African jockey Callan Murray gained a dream result at just his third meet­ing in Hong Kong, scor­ing his first Sha Tin win in style with a shock victory on 88-1 rank outsider Lucky Year in the Grade 3 Sha Tin Vase Handicap over 1200m yesterday.

“Unbelievable!” Murray ex­claimed after Danny Shum-trained Lucky Year poked through to hold off a wall of challengers, led by John Size pair DB Pin and Thewizardofoz. “I can’t believe it, how exciting is this? It’s crazy. I didn’t expect it so soon, but I’m thrilled – what a way to break through at Sha Tin. I’ve been very fortunate.

“You always hope that you can make an impression quickly, you’ve got it in the back of your head you want to do well, but I didn’t think it could be like this. Hopefully it gives me a bit of mo­mentum going forward.”

Murray pushed Lucky Year into a handy position, eventually set­tling second outside the leader Fabulous One, who set a relatively slow tempo in front. While the winner looked under siege at the 200m, he fought on gamely, racing clear for a 0,75-length success in a time of 1 min 09.27sec.

“Danny told me to have him midfield but they went so slow, they were really dragging it back throughout, so I ended up sitting handier,” Murray said. “I think he seemed to really travel well, and I knew I had plenty underneath me turning in. I thought he could be around the mark but wow, he re­ally found.

“He came in under the radar, he’s an honest horse and I’d been told that on his times, he could match it with any other horse in the race.”

Murray admitted there was some concern that he would miss the ride because he would strug­gle to get down to the horse’s al­lotted weight of 52.5kg. In the end, he tipped the scales 500g over at 53kg.

“I thought I might have to fore­go the ride,” Murray said. “It was hard work to get that weight down but I’m absolutely rapt, I’m so happy I did it. This is such a great result.”

Shum was full of praise for Murray and predicted a fruitful Hong Kong career for the 20-year-old Johannesburg rider.

“I rang a few jockeys asking them to ride this horse, but none of them wanted to ride him,” Shum said. “Then I came across Callan. He worked hard to get his weight down and he really wanted the chance. I thought he would be a good fit.

“He’s a very polite kid, he’s got talent and I would be happy to use him on more of my horses. I could see him being here for a long time to come.”

It was Shum’s first win in the Sha Tin Vase and his second Group victory of the season, hav­ing won the Grade 3 Centenary Vase (1800m) with Supreme Profit in February. The handler believes Lucky Year is a horse who needs everything to fall into place on the right day.

“This horse just has to get things his own way,” Shum said. “He needs a low weight, he needs a slow or even pace, and even then he needs luck in running. He got all that today. At set weights, he just does a couple of things wrong and might not be up to some of his rivals.”

Thewizardofoz produced the fastest last 400m and last 800m to charge into third, with rider Chad Schofield saying the run was full of merit: “He ran really well. There was just no speed but he was on the outside, able to fly into the race and he was strong to the line.”

John Moore-trained Magic Leg­end, sent out a 17-10 favourite, fin­ished fourth, beaten only a length. Jockey Karis Teetan also lament­ed the tempo, saying the three-year-old was inconvenienced by a pace that continued to slacken through the middle stages.

“The leader (Fabulous One) kept slowing down,” Teetan said. He wasn’t disgraced and I think he’ll be a sprinter to watch.” – Hong Kong Jockey Club