Rogue mends his ways
By TONY WHITE
FORMER barrier rogue Shagny Lover provided the Port Macquarie-based Murrell family with a triumphant end yesterday to the highly successful five-day $750,000 July Racing Carnival at Grafton.
The seven-year-old gelding stormed home out wide to win the feature event, the $25,000 Maclean Bowling Club Maclean Cup (1400m).
Shagny Lover is trained by Robert Murrell, owned by his father Stewart and Robert Murrell's wife Mandy and was strapped by the couple's 15-year-old son Luke.
Luke only got his strapper's licence last week.
The Murrells other two sons, Jarrod and Andrew, were also on hand to celebrate the success.
"It's a team effort," Robert Murrell said after Shagny Lover, ridden by Marlon Dolendo, returned to scale.
"Everyone in the family helps out ... and they're all here today."
Starting at $6, Shagny Lover came with a withering burst late to beat Frisco's Harem, $26, by two lengths with Jenks ($12) three-quarters of a length away in third.
The $4.20 favourite Mr Aristos disappointed after leading to finish seventh under his big weight of 61kg.
"This has been a great carnival, I've had four starters for two winners and two fourths," Murrell said.
Shagny Lover was brought sight unseen from a property at Yass as an unraced four-year-old.
"A friend of my dad's, bloodstock agent David Baker, recommended him to us and we had him for his first 11 starts but he was a barrier rogue," Murrell said.
"We sent him to Mack Griffith at Muswellbrook and he did such a good job straightening him out we left him there.
"Mack had him for 18 months, he won six races including two in Sydney and was completely cured of his barrier manners."
Inexplicably Shagny Lover totally lost form and Murrell eventually brought the gelding back to his family property at Telegraph Point.
"When Mack gave him back to us he didn't know what was wrong with him," Murrell said.
"He was sound and fit but just didn't want to be a racehorse.
"We tipped him out, let him run around the paddock chasing kangaroos and he just got his zest for racing back.
"We kept him away from racetracks for nine months; I used to work him on the property and he's only returned to working at Port Macquarie since about March.
"His first couple of starts back were awful, then he suddenly picked up and when he ran second in a race, that's when we knew he was back and wanted to race," Murrell said.
Shagny Lover has now won 12 races with 17 minor placings and in excess of $150,000 in prizemoney.
"He and Serpentine have been my best horses," Murrell said.
"Shagny Lover has been a godsend for the family."