“I’ve been very lucky in my time here,” he said. “There have been some great thrills and to win two big races here was something I dreamed about, but never thought would actually come true. I hope that I can win again on Sunday and end what has been an amazing experience on a high note.
“I’ve noticed at this time of the season, anything can win, we’ve seen some funny results – Horse Of Fortune is a case in point last time. They are all pretty open races on Sunday, including this one, so I’m hoping that my horse will give his best here.”
Murray will return to the South African riding ranks in the weeks ahead, where he is looking to leading trainer Mike de Kock, as well as owners Markus and Ingrid Jooste and their racing manager Derek Brugman, for support as he pushes to win the South African jockeys’ title.
“I’m going to give the championship a go back home,” Murray said. “There’s not too many guys going for that, and I’m lucky to have some great backers – obviously Mr De Kock is one of my great supporters, and I’m grateful to him. I also get support from Mr and Mrs Jooste and Mr Brugman, especially down in Port Elizabeth. I think they will probably be my biggest backers, but I am hoping to get support from everyone back home – I will need it if I am to win the championship!”
He also hopes that one day, he can return to Hong Kong and potentially join his countrymen like Bartie Leisher, Basil Marcus, Robbie Fradd and Douglas Whyte, all of whom inscribed their name on the honour roll of Hong Kong Champion Jockeys in the last three decades.
“Without a doubt, I’d like to come back here,” he said. “I think now is the right time to go back with everything I’ve learned over the last few weeks. I think there is still so much to learn at home but I hope that I can come back one day as a better rider, and I can’t wait for the day I get the call to come back.”
Clipperton, meanwhile, is currently locked in a three-way battle with Whyte and Karis Teetan for fourth in the jockeys’ championship, and will remain based at Sha Tin next season. The Australian rider is bracing himself for a tougher sophomore season after his freshman year yielded 40 winners up to Sunday’s finale.
“I’ve been a little bit quiet lately but I have some nice rides on Sunday, so hopefully they can run as well as I think they can,” he said. “Regardless of what happens, though, I’m very happy, I got to 40 wins so I couldn’t ask for much more.
“Next season is going to be a lot tougher, the landscape obviously changes a bit with Tommy (Berry) coming in, but there are going to be two more trainers in Michael (Freedman) and Frankie (Lor) so I’m just going to keep doing what I’ve done this year. I’ve been getting a lot of support from a wide variety of jockeys and trainers, so we’ll keep working hard and hopefully it all comes together.”
The Sha Tin Mile Trophy also features four Cruz-trained runners, including Time Warp (115lb), who has clocked the fastest 1650m and 1800m times at Happy Valley this season and now returns to Sha Tin. The handler is also represented by Romantic Touch (128lb), King Genki (113lb) and Anticipation (113lb), while Shum’s G3 winner Supreme Profit (115lb) and John Size’s emerging three-year-old Beat The Clock (117lb) complete the field.
The Class 1 Sha Tin Mile Trophy (1600m) is scheduled as the eighth of 11 races and will jump at 4.05pm, with the opener, the Class 5 Being Famous Handicap (1200m), to begin the season’s final meeting at 12.30pm.