SOUTH African young gun Callan Murray is no stranger to riding winners but the leading apprentice was surprised when he arrived for his first morning of work at Lindsay Park.
Murray is spending the final month of his apprenticeship in Victoria before returning as a senior jockey in South Africa, linking up with the powerful Hayes operation until mid-January.
And while the baby-faced 20-year-old came eager to work, he didn’t realise what was expected of apprentice riders in Australia. “My first morning was a surprise. I don’t really saddle up horses in the morning at home, I just hop on and go,” he said.
“That was a bit of a surprise, when they told me to tack up on my own. Not that I can’t do it, I just haven’t done it in a while.
“It is very different here. We have a lot of staff availability there, so riders don’t do a lot of the work back at the stables, we just do it at the track. So it is good to be a part of the stables and see what happens behind the scenes.”
Murray has ridden 184 winners during his apprenticeship, therefore is not riding with a claim while in Australia. He rides for leading South African trainer Mike De Kock and has tasted success at Group level.
But it was another first at Tatura last Tuesday as he rode several barrier trials for Lindsay Park. “We don’t have trials back home so this is very different,” he said. “It is a whole new world for me out here.
“But I’m really enjoying it thus far, I just hope I can get out and ride a few winners while I’m here.”
Murray’s time in Australia was organised through a meeting with Matt Pumpa, who spotted his talent three years ago while on a trip to South Africa.
“I was back over there again in August and he expressed some interest and said he wouldn’t mind coming for a look. So, with a month left of his apprenticeship, it was the perfect opportunity to see how it all works here,” Pumpa said.
“There is no doubting his talent; he is stable rider for Mike de Kock and has the world at his feet.”
While he has yet to ride a winner, Murray has already shown his talent with a close second place at Flemington last week. – Racing.com