Special win for Murray

Cambridge owner-trainer David Murray has won his share of races over the years, but none has meant more to him than winning yesterday’s John F. Grylls Memorial Classic at Te Awamutu.

Murray was successfully represented in the race by Carbonado, who has been one of the “finds” this winter with four wins from his last six starts. With Sam Spratt aboard, Carbonado proved too strong in the 2000-metre event, scoring by three lengths.

“It was extra special to win that race,” said Murray. “Johnny Grylls was a good joker and I had a bit to do with him over the years. He won a couple of races for me on Caballero, the first good horse I had. In one of those wins he was last on the turn over 1200 metres and won by three and a half lengths. I remember Johnny saying I could set him for either the Auckland Cup (3200m) or the Railway Handicap (1200m).”

Caballero won six races and the two wins with Grylls in the saddle were at Rotorua in 1980. Murray was the Clerk of the Course at Rotorua for 30 years and he proudly escorted Caballero and Grylls back to the winner’s enclosure.

Murray’s list of winners over the years includes Melanion (eight wins), Blown Away (eight wins), Sir Prized, Livewire and now Carbonado, whose recent spate of success has taken his record to six wins and four placings from 29 starts.

Carbonado is from the same family as Blown Away and Livewire, descending from the broodmare Greta Marlin.

“I bought Greta Marlin, Carbonado’s great grandmother, 45 years ago for just over 60 pounds,” recalled Murray. “I rode her at a picnic meeting at Reporoa and had to take off two and a half stone to do it. We won the race.”

Blown Away credited Murray with a couple of stakes wins when taking the Cornwall Handicap — Kiwifruit Cup double in 2000. Murray headed to  Australia with Blown Away, who had a couple of runs in Melbourne.

“I took him over to get him ready for the (Melbourne) Cup, but he got a virus and had to come home,” recalled Murray. “I remember one morning Darren Gauci rode him in a gallop at Flemington and he got off afterwards and said he thought he’d seen everything until then. Blown Away had just worked a strong round and a half at Flemington and after the gallop all he wanted to do was pick grass. Darren said after a workout like that they should puff not pick.”

Murray has many fond memories of Blown Away’s racing days, but in Carbonado he could have found a worthwhile replacement. And at Te Rapa later this month Carbonado will attempt to do something which eluded Blown Away — win the Taumarunui Cup.

Blown Away tried three times to win the Taumarunui Cup and his best result was a seventh to Van Winkle in 2002. Now 10 years later Carbonado is in the form to overshadow Blown Away.

Carbonado picked up a highweight double last winter and has gone from strength to strength this year. And sharing in the success has been Sam Spratt, who has been aboard in each of the last four wins.

Carbonado won at Matamata on May 9 then again two starts later at Rotorua and made it two on end when scoring again at Matamata. Murray then lined him up in the Listed Kiwifruit Cup and the result was a game third to Marea Alta leading up to yesterday’s win.