Popular jockey Chris Symons steered Murt The Flirt to victory in the 2015 Magic Millions 3YO&4YO Classic at Ballarat this afternoon in his first race meeting since he suffered a nasty injury in a horror fall at Bendigo in June.
Symons was riding Hampshire when the mare broke her leg and sent him into the ground in brutal fashion and the fall left him with a severe concussion, significant whiplash, a broken shoulder blade and a compression fracture to his T6 vertebrae.
There was a point where it looked like Symons would return to the saddle, but he showed his trademark determination to build his body back to full fitness and he was rewarded with the win on Murt The Flirt this afternoon.
Symons took out the Ballarat Magic Millions Classic on Murt The Flirt last year and he said after the race that he was thrilled to be able to record his first race of his comeback on a horse that he had such an association with.
“It is great because he was one of the first horses I started riding when I came back and I have been affiliated with him last prep,” Symons said.
“Brendan has been a massive supporter of mine, which is great, and I trialed him a week ago and I he went terrific.
“I thought he might need this run under his belt and when drew barrier 17 I actually wanted to pull the pin, but we overcame that.
“We were wide the trip and three deep, but I was just camped outside the favourite.
“I am just wrapped.”
Trainer Brendan McCarthy was quick to pay credit to the ride of Symons, but he was also thrilled to see Murt The Flirt make a winning return to racing in the 2015 Magic Millions 3YO&4YO Classic.
The McCarthy stable is in a rich vein of form after he trained a double at Moonee Valley last night and he hopes that the good run will continue when Murt The Flirt heads to the Gold Coast for the Magic Millions meeting.
“We have never had much luck with barriers with this bloke,” McCarthy said.
“Last year in the Magic Millions in Queensland we drew the outside gate there and we drew the outside again today.
“Tactically because of the bias in the track we had to go forward and the horse did it.
“First-up it was a big effort and he has done it beautifully.
“Chris has been very close with me over the past few years and he is a terrific bloke.
“It is one of those things, after an incident like what he had a lot of people don’t come back and I have had a lot of conversations with him about it.
“He has been down and ridden this horse a lot of times, so he has a really affinity with the horse and it is terrific just to have him back.”
Wild Rain was well-backed in the lead-up to the Ballart Magic Millions Classic and she produced another strong effort to finish second, while Illustrious Lad returned to the races with a good third.