Master, apprentice share in Ipswich racing firsts
ONE was a former bull rider on the rise after spending time in a wheelchair.
The other was at the top of his game visiting Ipswich for the first time.
And although at massively different stages of their racing careers, apprentice Michael Murphy and highly regarded Blake Shinn shared similar views at the latest Ipswich Cup Day.
After winning the $180,000 Channel Seven Ipswich Cup aboard Bergerac, Murphy spoke highly of the buzz he enjoyed at Queensland's best supported race day.
"It's a good atmosphere. It was a thrill,'' Murphy said, having soaked up the roar of the massive crowd down the home straight.
A delighted Murphy steered five-year-old Bergerac home before more than 20,000 Ipswich racegoers, far surpassing the 14,500 people who attended the recent Stradbroke Handicap Day at the revitalised Eagle Farm.
"I just got out at the right spot and away he went,'' Murphy said, hoping his victory in Ipswich gives his career a boost.
"I'm going out a winner.''
Less than an hour later, Shinn was glad he made his first trip to Ipswich after guiding six-year-old gelding Man Booker to victory in the $176,500 City of Ipswich Eye Liner Stakes.
"It's been a really enjoyable day for me,'' the top Sydney jockey said.
"It's a real eye-opener.
"It's a standalone meeting and I think the (Ipswich Turf) club does a wonderful job at getting a great crowd behind the club. It's wonderful to ride a feature winner here.
"Hopefully one day you will see me back.''
While Shinn was delighted with his latest Queensland Winter Carnival success, Murphy was looking for a period of stability after recovering from serious injury and battling health issues.
The Cairns-bred rider was a leading bull rider who ironically suffered his most serious injury after being lured to horse racing.
Murphy had his pelvis shattered in three places from a rearing horse throwing him.
He spent 12 months recovering from his painful ordeal, months of which were spent in a wheelchair.
He has since battled challenges keeping his weight and health issues under control.
However, the Eagle Farm-based apprentice signalled he was ready for more glory.
"I'd won on him (Bergerac) in the Bernborough Handicap (1600m) at Doomben (last December) and he's been very good to me,'' Murphy said.
"I've had a few rides in the bigger races and it was a bit quiet but I think now things are going to start getting back on track and I'll be in full swing.''
After his first Ipswich Cup win, Murphy was grateful for the help of Toowoomba trainer Steve Tregea and a group of backers.
"I can't thank Steve enough. He's been a very good support of mine,'' Murphy, 21, said.
"I've been going through a rough time and I've had a few people steer me in the right direction and I appreciate that.''
Sydney-based Shinn, 31, has endured no such misfortune in recent times, winning four races on one day late last month at Doomben during the Queensland Winter Carnival.
The 2008 Melbourne Cup winner (aboard Viewed) and 2017 Golden Slipper victor (aboard Capitalist) will race in the Tatt's Tiara meeting next weekend before heading to Hong Kong for the next stage of his successful career.
"That will be my final meeting here in Queensland,'' Shinn said, having won last year's Tatt's Club Tiara aboard Prompt Response.
"It's been a really wonderful time for me here, basing myself in Queensland.''
In Saturday's Eye Liner Stakes, Shinn was pleased to hold out fast-finishing emergency Astoria, which ran a bold race paying $12 for second.
Jockey Justin Stanley thought he was going to upstage Shinn's charge before Man Booker showed a final burst of speed.
"That was my first ride on Man Booker,'' Shinn said, reflecting on the exciting finish.
"He's obviously a very classy horse and he's run in some big races here over the Queensland carnival; it's a bit of a step back in grade here today and his class shone through.''
Shinn said Man Booker sensed what was happening at the 200m mark and "was up to the challenge''.