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True Blue De Kock

First Gr1 winner for Callan Murray

A fully fledged jockey for only a matter of months, Callan Murray registered a career first Gr1 success and gave trainer Mike de Kock the second leg of a Classic double when the Australian-bred Heavenly Blue ran out a smooth winner of the R2 million Gr1 SA Classic at Turffontein on Saturday.

All smiles! Callan Murray rides Heavenly Blue with the hands to a memorable win (Pic – JC Photos)

On a day dominated by Sean Tarry, Mike de Kock forced his way onto centre stage grabbing a thrilling Gr1 double.

In a nine horse field, De Kock arrived with three runners – headed by the sentimental hope, SA Triple Crown first leg winner Janoobi.

But Heavenly Blue always  looked the more likely to relish the extra ground and to challenge Sean Tarry’s boom colt, Al Sahem.

Prior to Saturday, the handsome grey Heavenly Blue’s major claim to fame was his debut win in the first ever race on the Vaal Classic track.

Callan Murray – Avontuur ambassador’s cracking Gr1 win

Subsequent feature runner-up cheques in the Graham Beck Stakes  and the Dingaans suggested Heavenly Blue was ready for bigger things, but a modest Cape Guineas effort from an awful draw, dashed the dreams of a possible Sun Met tilt.

Back at home, his slow wind-up third in the Gauteng Guineas behind Janoobi and Al Sahem three weeks ago gave a hint of better things to come over ground and the SP top-rated runner put it all together in style on Saturday.

Allowed to relax as stablemate Alaadel did the donkey work up front, Callan Murray slipped Heavenly Blue down the inside as Craig Zackey showed some cheek on longshot Unagi who went for broke at the 400m.

Powering down the rail under a left-handed ride from the former SA and Zimbabwe champion apprentice Murray, Heavenly Blue always looked to be too strong for 16-10 fancy Al Sahem who plodded down the centre without looking dangerous.

An elated Murray pushed his mount out with the hands in the final 50m as the son of Snitzel went on too powerfully to win by 2,90 lengths in a time of 109,69 secs.

Mike de Kock

Mike de Kock – classic double

Furiosa came on late to deny the gallant Unagi third place.

Janoobi had every chance but patently failed to stay the 1800m and faded very badly late.

The rest were outclassed.

Heavenly Blue has won 3 races with 3 places from his 7 starts for stakes of R1 618 750.

An A$200 000 Inglis Easter yearling purchase from the Arrowfield Stud draft by Jehan Malherbe’s Form Bloodstock, Heavenly Blue  is by Redoute’s Choice stallion Snitzel.

He is the first foal of El Prado’s one time winner Simply Carina – a daughter of Allen Paulson’s four-time Gr I-winning turf mare Astra (Theatrical {Ire}), who was purchased by Freyer Bloodstock for US$290,000 out of the 2010 Keeneland November sale.

Simply Carina’s second produce, a filly by Smart Missile (Aus), fetched A$270 000 at the 2016  Magic Millions Gold Coast sale and she foaled a full-sister to Heavenly Blue in 2015.


Gr1 SA Classic  (SAf-Gr1)

Turffontein, South Africa, April 1, R2 million, 1800m, turf, good, 1.49.96

1 – HEAVENLY BLUE (AUS), 60.0, gr c 3, Snitzel (AUS) – Simply Carina (USA) by El Prado (IRE). Owner Mr & Mrs W V Rippon, Mr A & Mrs R Chadha & Messrs M F de Kock & L M Nestadt; Breeder bred in Australia; trainer MF de Kock; jockey C Murray
2 – Al Sahem (SAF), 60.0, b c 3, Silvano (GER) – Alderry (SAF) by Al Mufti (USA)
3 – Furiosa (AUS), 60.0, b c 3, Fastnet Rock (AUS) – Suitely (AUS) by Woodman (USA)
Margins: 2.90, 0.40, 2.20

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