Steve Moran

MORAN’S MUSE: This week we open with a Who Am I?

I’m a metropolitan premiership winner; I’ve won a Scobie Breasley medal and I’ve ridden Group One winners in England and Europe. Got me yet?

I rode three winners at the Royal Ascot meeting including the 2005 St James’s Palace Stakes (Gr 1, 1m) on Shamardal (Giant’s Causeway). A year earlier, I rode the UAE Derby (Gr 2, 1800m) winner Blues And Royals (Honour And Glory) and, 12 months earlier again, I won a classic in England – the St Leger (Gr 1, 1m6f) aboard Rule Of Law (Kingmambo).

Still not sure?

OK, we’ll give it away with the final clues. I was born in South Australia and my first Group One win was in the Melbourne Cup (Gr 1, 3200m) of 2000 aboard Brew (Sir Tristram), trained by Mike Moroney. I’d just turned 20 and became the second youngest rider to win the Cup

I am, of course, Kerrin McEvoy.

But such is the unassuming nature and generally low profile of one of our very best contemporary jockeys, I wouldn’t be surprised if it took a few clues before many readers identified the man whose Group One-winning tally is bettered only by Damien Oliver, Hugh Bowman and Steve King among his current, locally based rivals. And the three above him are his senior by eight to eleven years.

He’s never quite hogged the headlines, save for that Cup win and some largely unfair criticism of his riding style when he returned from Europe and he’s never been blessed with a headline horse like Bowman’s Winx or (Glen) Boss’ Makybe Diva (Desert King).

And yet his resume is impressive. Last Saturday he chalked up his 45th win at the top level with an excellent ride aboard the Ciaron Maher-trained Bon Aurum (Bon Hoffa) in last Saturday’s Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (Gr 1, 1400m) at Caulfield.

McEvoy previously won the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (then known as the Dubai Racing Club Cup) in 2002 on Pernod (Centaine) who was also trained by Moroney. And that proved to be quite a momentous day. He rode four winners which earned him the prize of a trip to Dubai which, in turn, led to him riding Godolphin’s Beekeeper (Rainbow Quest) into third place in that year’s Melbourne Cup and eventually to his appointment as stable number two behind Frankie Dettori.

That connection remained in place, either in Europe or Australia, until two years ago but his new life as a ‘freelancer’ has not diminished his success.

He was typically modest after Saturday’s win, saying the ‘rub of the green’ went his way but the fact is he continues to get the job done when it counts. As Moroney said, on Sunday’s Spring Insiders: “He’s always been a great rider, Kerrin.”

“I was able to slot in and get some cover early. Counterattack was caught three wide and Voodoo Lad was a pair further back so I was left holding the aces,” McEvoy said of how the race unfolded. However, it was his mid-race decision to relinquish his initial cover and slide forward on to the back of Counterattack (Redoute’s Choice) before anything else, including Voodoo Lad (I Am Invincible), got going that secured him the race.

The question now is whether Bon Aurum can go on to win the Toorak Handicap (Gr 1, 1600m) and continue McEvoy’s winning run in partnership with trainer Maher having won the Stradbroke Handicap (Gr 1, 1350m) and the Tattersall’s Tiara (Gr 1, 1400m) aboard Maher’s Srikandi (Dubawi) in 2015.

“The ‘mile’ might be a query for some but this horse has grown up mentally and is settling well enough to go the extra 200 metres,” McEvoy said.

Nine horses have won the Rupert Clarke – Toorak Handicap double including three since 2004. The past two horses to achieve the feat were, like Bon Aurum, four-year-olds who carried 52 kilograms in the first leg – Trust In A Gust (Keep The Faith) in 2014 and Barely A Moment (Gilded Time) in 2005.

From 2005, eight-four-year-olds have won the Rupert Clarke and each of them contested the Toorak for a yield of the two aforementioned wins while Rewaaya (Singspiel) was second in 2006 and Stratum Star (Stratum) was third last year. The other four, of that age, to have won the Rupert Clarke were arguably suspect at 1600 metres and the Toorak proved beyond them. They were – Response (Charge Forward), Toorak Toff (Show A Heart), Moment Of Change (Barely A Moment) and Rebel Dane (California Dane).

So, the question for punters will very simply be: do you think Bon Aurum will run out the 1600 metres? He’s failed twice previously, in both the Caulfield Guineas (Gr 1, 1600m) and Australian Guineas (Gr 1, 1600m), but those runs were inconclusive. The former was the seventh and last run of his first racing campaign and preceded surgery to remove bone chips while he didn’t ‘come up’ in his Australian Guineas preparation.

The Toorak is, of course, two Saturday’s away and McEvoy will have more immediate opportunities to improve his Group One tally. He will ride Ball Of Muscle (Dubawi) in Friday night’s Moir Stakes (Gr 1, 1000m). “He’s come back really well and it looks a good race for him,” McEvoy said of Ball Of Muscle who was runner-up to Buffering (Mossman) in last year’s Moir.

On Saturday, at Randwick, he rides McCreery (Big Bad Bob) in the Epsom Handicap (Gr 1, 1600m) and Dee I Cee in The Metropolitan (Gr 1, 2400m). Then he returns to Flemington on Sunday to be reacquainted with a possible Cups mount Our Ivanhowe (Soldier Hollow) in the Turnbull Stakes (Gr 1, 2000m).

“He wasn’t far away in both Cups last year and I think he’ll be much better suited this year if he can strike tracks with a bit of give,” McEvoy said of the horse on whom he won the Doomben Cup (Gr 1, 2000m) in May.

The boy from Streaky Bay, arguably our most underrated riders, will be seeking a 14th Melbourne Cup mount. He hasn’t won it since that very first ride in the race but nine of his 13 mounts have finished in the top ten and he’s run second, third and fourth. That’s a ‘major’ record any golfer would be proud of.

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