Riding his breakthrough metropolitan winner for Sue Murphy added further to the lustre of Jacob Opperman’s success on Saturday.
The highly regarded Mount Gambier-based apprentice jockey has rapidly ticked off a number of milestones in his short career, and reached another one at Murray Bridge aboard Farooq.
The 17-year-old has enjoyed a strong working relationship with Naracoorte-based Murphy for some time, making his maiden metro win “more special”.
“Sue has been a good supporter of mine ever since I started riding,” he said.
“I do gallops for her now and again, through the weekdays, and I’ve actually been working for her since I started going to the races and strapping horses.
“Dad (Jacob’s father Jamie, who trains out of Mount Gambier) has known Sue for a long time too, but I’ve really only got to know her in the past few years, since I was about 14.”
Jacob’s first metropolitan win came at just his third metropolitan meeting and followed an outstanding successful first nine months in the saddle that have yielded 41 wins and seen racing insiders predicting big things.
“I wasn’t feeling any pressure to get my first metro winner,” he said.
“I just went out there and treated it like any other normal race. I was a bit shocked when I saw the margin when I came back to scale – I didn’t realise how much we’d won by.
“It helps to know the horse though, and know what he’s like.”
Jacob’s big day was witnessed by his biggest supporters: his parents, grandparents and girlfriend. He said Farooq’s win sparked a trickle of congratulatory messages on Saturday night, while the family made the long trek back to Mount Gambier. Darryn Murphy, SA jockey coach, was among those to pat Jacob on the back.
“Darryn was at Murray Bridge and ran us up again that night to congratulate us,” he siad.
“He’s also been a good supporter of mine and he helps out with my riding.”
Jacob described Farooq as “a pretty classy horse” and said he knew the five-year-old gelding had plenty to offer.
“When I was over at (ex-Victorian trainer) Darren Weir’s I led a horse called Leonardo Da Hinchi and Farooq was in that race,” he explained.
“It was the Group 2 Stutt Stakes at Moonee Valley and he was with Tony and Calvin McEvoy then. That’s how I remember him.”
After a sluggish start, Farooq was steered into a prime striking position by Jacob and the horse did the rest.
“I didn’t want to be on the fence, because he’s a big-striding horse,” Jacob said.
“So, I just sat one-off behind Stan The Caddy and it worked out well. I just had to pick the right time to get him rolling along.”
Jacob said he could be spending more time at western Victorian meetings, many of which are closer than some of South Australia’s major racing centres, such as Gawler. He has already ridden for Victorian trainers Simon Wilde and Matthew Williams, among others.
Jacob rode Ace Attack to victory at Oakbank on Wednesday, as well as Cotillon yesterday to quickly notch his second and third metro winners.
Image: Jacob Opperman landed his first metropolitan winner at Murray Bridge on Saturday when Farooq won for Naracoorte trainer Sue Murphy.