The up-and-coming Avontuur-sponsored Callan Murray rode a powerful finish to outpoint local star Grant van Niekerk in a rousing finish to the R150 000 Listed Kenilworth Cup at a windswept Kenilworth on Saturday.
The 20 year old 2015/16 SA champion apprentice has blossomed into an accomplished young rider and while he is still coming to terms with his sponsor’s fine bottled products, he had no issues when it came to judging the pace in a slowly run 3200m, with the Cape Doctor playing havoc on all sides.
When the south-easter blows it can be intimidating for both horse and rider, but Murray, who heads to Australia for a stint with David Hayes in a week’s time, rode a confident race on Mike de Kock’s very fit 5yo Smart Mart.
The pair tracked My World all the way around the Southern Suburbs course.
With the field reduced to six, there was little question that there would be more wind than pace – with the gallop eventually being gradually upped three quarters into the race.
In a sprint for home, MJ Byleveld, who had played the Pied Piper aboard My World, went for broke as his stablemate Three Balloons ranged up, looking dangerous.
Murray didn’t panic for a second as Grant van Niekerk headed him, with the two bottomweights duelling for supremacy in the final 100m.
Knowing what he had under him, Murray calmly balanced the De Kock galloper and put his head in front to win by 0,20 lengths in a reasonable time in the end of 207,43 secs.
My World stayed on gallantly, albeit one-paced, to finish third a further 0,75 lengths back.
The favourite Captain Splendid never quickened under Piere Strydom from near the back and ran out of the money.
Kingston Mines finished tailed off and his best days look to be behind him.
The Moutonshoek-bred Smart Mart is by Mambo In Seattle out of the thrice winning Almushtarak mare, Joyful Dancer.
A R100 000 National Yearling Sale purchase, Smart Mart has now won 5 races with 12 places from 25 starts for stakes of R512 400.
This was his first stakes win after a runner-up position behind his Gold Cup-winning stablemate Enaad in the Gr3 Gold Vase last term.
It was not the first Summer Of Champions success for Murray and De Kock – they teamed up to win the Choice Carriers Championship with Ektifaa at the end of October.