Last season’s champion South African apprentice Callan Murray is broadening his racing experience in the final weeks of his apprenticeship with a summer stint in Victoria.
And the 20-year-old is keen to make the most of his first foray into Australian racing.
Murray arrived in Melbourne last Friday and will be based with the Lindsay Park team until the middle of next month.
He rode in his first Australian race at Kilmore on Monday, finishing fourth, and has been booked for two rides for the David and Ben Hayes and Tom Dabernig team at Flemington on Saturday.
“My main thing coming over here was to get some experience and learn, because obviously it’s all really different,” Murray said.
“I think you never stop learning so I mainly just want to learn and experience the different racing and horses and different people involved in racing. And also have a bit of a working holiday.”
Murray had no family involvement in racing but said a family friend, who is a steward, suggested he become a jockey.
His five-year apprenticeship ends next month and Murray, who is apprenticed to Mike De Kock in his native South Africa, has ridden 184 winners.
The opportunity for the Australian stint came about through Matt Pumpa who is an apprentices’ jockey coach at Racing Victoria.
Pumpa met Murray about three years ago while he was in South Africa for an apprentices’ series race,.
He was back there a few months ago on a working holiday and when Murray showed an interest in a summer stint in Melbourne, he helped organise it.
Murray says it’s the first time he has ridden outside South Africa and neighbouring Zimbabwe, where he also claimed an apprentices’ premiership, but riding internationally is an ambition.
“I would definitely like to travel wherever the right opportunity comes,” he said.
“That’s one of my goals.”
Murray attended last Saturday’s Flemington meeting and rode trackwork there for the first time on Thursday. He has ridden work at Lindsay’s Park’s Euroa property and barrier trials at Tatura.
He is excited to ride at Flemington competitively for the first time.
“It’s going to be a thrill riding there, obviously, with all the history behind it,” he said.
He rides first starter French Skyline and La Speciale on Saturday.
“I don’t know the horses all too well yet but I’m just hoping to have a good day out,” he said.
“I would like to get on the board, just to get the ball rolling.”
Murray does not have a claim in Australia.
“I’ll just have to make up for that in the saddle,” he said.