Callan Murray to ride in first Australian Group 1 in South Australian Derby

South African jockey Callan Murray won’t let the occasion get the better of him when he contest his first Australian Group 1 in the SA Derby.

Bolstered by some serious international success, South African jockey Callan Murray won’t be overawed when he competes in his first Australian Group 1 on Saturday.

The 25-year-old already has nine Group 1 victories in his homeland to his credit – and two Group 3 wins in Hong Kong – and he gets the chance to collect more feature success when he jumps aboard King Of Pharaohs in the South Australian Derby.

The opportunity comes as Murray finally starts to build some momentum after an admittedly slow start to his Adelaide stint.

After arriving in August, he struggled to make a mark early but has really come into his own recently, with eight wins from his past 35 rides.

With his confidence back, Murray is looking forward to giving some of his more-fancied rivals a scare on Roslyn Day’s 60-1 chance in the Derby.

“I’m probably more excited than nervous. I’m just happy that I’ve got the opportunity – albeit with a bit of a longshot – but anything can pop up in those type of races and if it does happen to (win), it would be a good changing point to my career in Adelaide,” he said.

“Obviously I’ve had a pretty quiet stint here for a while – it took me a long time to find traction – but through a bit of hard work and patience things have come together.

“I’ve had a bit of luck recently and got on some more competitive chances – it’s worked out well.”

Murray has been travelling far and wide to build support – both on raceday and for trackwork – and those trips are starting to pay off.

They say the harder you work the luckier you get and perhaps that helps explain how the hoop tasted success aboard 150-1 shot Swankytoff at Murray Bridge earlier this month.

“It was a very pleasant surprise,” he said.

“I’m just trying to show up every morning in different places and hopefully that affords me the rides.”

Murray doesn’t have much of a history with King Of Pharaohs – but neither does Day, who acquired the three-year-old from the Tony and Calvin McEvoy stable after being beaten as favourite during the Warrnambool carnival last week.

“I had a sit on him Tuesday, Roslyn brought him to the track and he felt in good order – he was a happy horse, he looked great in his coat and I was pleased to see the type of temperament that he had,” he said.

“I can’t really fault him without knowing too much about the horse.”

Murray is yet to make up his mind about what to do from barrier 16 (likely to come into 12 once the emergencies come out) but he is not committed to pressing forward.

“It’s obviously not ideal but I’m just hoping we get a bit of luck from that gate,” he said.

“Having watched some of the past races, some of them were able to travel three-deep with cover and were still able to win from there.”

Originally published as Callan Murray to ride in first Australian Group 1 in South Australian Derby

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