WHILE soccer followers have Three Lions on their minds jockey Oisin Murphy is concentrating on simply the one.
He groups up together with his Derby third Roaring Lion – owned by his Qatar Racing bosses – in in the present day’s £750,000 Coral-Eclipse hoping to fill a void on an in any other case spectacular CV.
The 22-year-old has achieved rather a lot since arriving from Eire with a dedication for fulfillment and a racing schooling that might impress any college professor.
He’s definitely put it to good use.
Murphy was champion apprentice in 2014, has notched up greater than 500 winners and not too long ago landed his second Royal Ascot prize on Signora Cabello within the Queen Mary.
There’s been top-level success in North America, Dubai and France however a British Group 1 victory has been elusive.
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Calls don’t come a lot nearer than Lightning Spear’s short-head second to Rhododendron within the Lockinge at Newbury in Could.
At this time John Gosden’s Roaring Lion may have a golden alternative to win the Coral-Eclipse – a part of the Qipco British Champions Collection – with previous rival Masar declared a non-runner on Friday evening.
A formidable Dante Stakes win a York in Could means this might be his fifth run of the season.
Murphy instructed me: “Perhaps getting overwhelmed up to now by Masar within the Craven was a blessing in disguise.
“It took the stress off everybody and we had been capable of simply float into the Guineas hoping he’d run higher. He did – he ran an important race.
“It was a courageous resolution backing him up from the Guineas to the Dante. John felt he wanted to do it and he was right.
“He’s a horse who takes his work very properly and John felt he would enhance with racing.
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Hot favourite and Derby hero Masar scratched from the Coral-Eclipse
“We went steady in the Dante so it was always going to suit a horse with a massive gear change like him. His sectionals are fast.
“He was a decisive winner of the Dante and he probably stepped up again for his Derby third.
“If you watch the replay of the Derby I actually came around Tattenham Corner better than the winner.
“We went a good even tempo and it built the whole way. It must have just stretched him. In the last furlong I’ve gone from second position back into third.”
“I’m looking forward to him coming back to 10 furlongs – the same distance as his Dante win.
“We’ll go out there with the attitude he can win – I know he can win.
“A bit of belief goes a long way.”
That’s not something Murphy has appeared to lack on his rise through the ranks.
His is a talent that’s been moulded by some great teachers.
His uncle Jim Culloty – one of the few men to have ridden and trained a Cheltenham Gold Cup winner – was one. After success show jumping and in pony races, he joined the man made famous by Best Mate as a 13-year-old and went on to work for Tommy Stack.
If that education wasn’t impressive enough his next move was what budding jockeys dream of.
He arrived at the gates of Aidan O’Brien’s peerless Ballydoyle stables at a time when St Nicholas Abbey, Camelot and So You Think were at their peak.
A year later Murphy had already ridden a Derby winner as Ruler Of The World’s regular work rider.
Murphy’s Group 1 winners
Date: 31 March 2018
Track: Meydan (Dubai)
Race: Dubai Turf
Prize money: £2,666,667
Date: 15 October 2017
Track: Woodbine (Canada)
Race: E P Taylor Stakes
Horse: Blond Me
Prize money: £180,723
Date: 1 October 2017
Track: Chantilly (France)
Race: Prix de la Foret
Prize money: £146,513
Murphy remembered: “It was surreal. I grew up watching these horses on TV and dreaming about maybe seeing them one day. Riding them at home and actually galloping them was unbelievable.
“I rode a Derby winner aged 15. You wouldn’t do that anywhere else in the world. I actually used to ride him all the time and in his work.
“If a young fella shows an interest Aidan tries to help them as much as he can.
“He’s got too much to worry about to have apprentices but if he didn’t have all those good horses he would be an unbelievable mentor to apprentices.
“Even now I ride out for Aidan now and then and he always says ‘well done’ when I have a big winner.”
That sort of grounding might have made him in demand when he crossed the Irish Sea looking to put his education to use in races.
But when he joined Andrew Balding – with a track record of producing the likes of William Buick ad David Probert – he was so far down the pecking order the prospect of ruffling any feathers on the course looked distant.
Murphy added: “When I went there and there were seven apprentices with licences and three waiting to get licences.
“At Aidan’s I was the only young lad apart from Joseph. I was treated a bit differently by the older lads – they wanted you to get on.
“At Andrew’s we were all fighting for the same rides and same opportunities.
“I did as much as I could to get on. I made an effort to ride the difficult ones at home.
“I was definitely as focused then as I am now. I knew if I didn’t succeed I was going to let people down.”
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The wait for success was not long as Imperial Glance gave him his first winner on his first ride.
Little more than three months later he won the Ayr Gold Cup on Highland Colori as part of a stunning four-timer.
There was no doubt Murphy was a star apprentice but weighing rooms don’t contain red carpets rolled out for the next big thing.
Without a weight claim to attract trainers the following years can often be a struggle. Murphy was determined he could overcome it.
He said: “It’s a massive jump from an apprentice to become a jockey. If you don’t keep improving you get left behind.
“I knew it would be difficult. I went from having a claim with six rides a day to one ride a day or three rides every two days and they weren’t winning.
“The March, April, May of 2015 was difficult. I rode out everyday – Joe Tuite, Clive Cox, Ralph Beckett and Andrew.
“I just want to keep improving. Even now my uncle Jim will ring up and say ‘you should’ve won that race’. I hate to say it but usually he’s right.
“On Tuesday after Royal Ascot I got two bollockings off him – then I won the first race on Wednesday.”
If he wins on Roaring Lion today there might just be a different tone to the next phone call.
The Coral-Eclipse is part of the QIPCO British Champions Series.