Jockey Oisin Murphy (file pic). Alamy Stock Photo
Looking Back

'I hope people who are struggling with alcohol can learn from my experiences' - Murphy

The 27-year-old returned in February after serving a 14-month ban for breaches of Covid regulations and for being over the alcohol limit on two occasions when he turned up to ride.

THREE-TIME British champion jockey Oisin Murphy says there are colleagues of his who would be better role models but he hopes “people struggling with alcohol can learn from my own experiences”.

The 27-year-old Irishman returned to race riding in February after serving a 14-month ban for breaches of Covid regulations and for being over the alcohol limit on two occasions when he turned up to ride.

He showed he had lost none of the elan and ability which had seen him win many major races when winning the English 1000 Guineas last Sunday on Mawj.

Eloquent and urbane he is often seen as the natural successor both in and out of the saddle to Frankie Dettori when the exuberant Italian retires at the end of the season.

Dettori too has had his problems serving a six-month ban for testing positive for cocaine but fought his way back to the top.

Murphy, though, is keen to downplay being someone a younger generation should look up to.

“I think there are a lot of really good dedicated young guys like David Egan and Tom Marquand who are better role models,” he told AFP at the French Guineas at Longchamp on Sunday.

“I just hope people who are struggling with alcohol can learn from my experiences and see it is possible to overcome the problem.”

 - ‘Listen to our mothers’ -

 Murphy says he hopes he has ironed out the creases that saw him go off the straight and narrow.

“I always wanted to do the right thing just it was not always that easy for me and I made it difficult for myself,” he said.

“This time I was very keen to try and enjoy riding as much as possible after a long time away.”

Murphy, who also served a three-month ban in 2020 for testing positive for cocaine, had said he had found it impossible to treat victory and defeat differently.

However, time away — though he rode out for several trainers and did a lot of showjumping in Spain and England — has modified those emotions.

“No, it was not a tough road in terms of changing that attitude as I got into a good routine when I got back and I have managed to stay very level-headed,” he said.

“It is obviously one day at a time, every day is a new day but I have been able to keep it together.

“I am no different to others. People in all walks of life have problems with alcohol but I am lucky to be riding nice horses.

“Even before Guineas weekend, I rode a treble at Newcastle.

“It makes it all the more worthwhile when you have the tougher days and getting through them easier.”

Murphy says he has been “touched” by the welcome back he has received.

He pays particular tribute to Qatari Sheikh Fahad Al Thani and trainer Andrew Balding for sticking by him — his first British classic winner Kameko in the 2020 English 2000 Guineas was trained by Balding and carried Al Thani’s Qatar Racing’s colours.

The other person pivotal in his life is his mother Maria and to his delight she was at Newmarket to watch him win on Mawj.

“It was great,” he said.

“Those Group Ones are hard to win especially the classics and that was only my second one.

“The fact she was there for it was really special.

“I might never win another Newmarket Guineas so I wanted to do it on the day she was there.”

Murphy says she has always been there for him.

“She was always a rock even if often we do not listen to our mothers like we should!”

“She is a superstar.”

Murphy drew a blank in both the French Guineas — outsider Marhaba Ya Sanafi winning the Poule d’Essai des Poulains (2000 Guineas).

The favourite Blue Rose Cen — owned by Spain-based Cuban-born Vietnam War veteran Leopoldo Fernandez Pujals — prevailed in the Poule d’Essai des Pouliches (1000 Guineas) giving trainer Christopher Head his first classic winner.

He can now set his sights on overhauling his aunt Criquette’s record seven wins as a trainer — his father Freddy holds the milestone for wins by a jockey with eight.

– © AFP 2023

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