independent

Saturday 19 April 2014

Irish stable lad who won €1.2m with bet returns to Cheltenham as trainer

IRELAND's millionaire stable lad is racing back to Cheltenham after an "unbelievable year" – but this time he will be on holiday and, of course, having a few bets.

Conor Murphy (29, right), from Ballineen, Co Cork, was the toast of the festival last year after winning £1m (€1.2m) on a five-horse accumulator.

It has been a whirlwind year for the hard-working former lad as he used his winnings to realise his ambition and set up as a trainer in the US.

"Cheltenham was an absolute dream," he said. "It was great to get a helping hand."

However, he admitted it was hard to leave his job as assistant head lad to English trainer Nicky Henderson, whose five horses on which he had bet £50 landed.

"The horses there were the best I'd ever worked with and probably will ever work with. They were a dream," he said.

After banking his winnings, Conor took time to weigh his options before buying a house in Louisville, Kentucky, and renting a barn at the Skylight Training facility.

"It was great to be able to buy a home without a mortgage and get going without having to watch every penny," he said. "I'm working as hard now as I did in England. You have to keep the show going."

After setting up in business in September, Conor also bought a few horses of his own to sell to clients, including "a really nice horse" called Di-mension, and Bronterre, who he has already sold a half share in.

"I haven't blown all my money yet," he joked, admitting there had been some frustrations as he strove to land a winner. He now has 25 horses at his stables, including six he is training for the track. The remainder are for his new pre-training business.

"I'd love to be at home or in England training jumpers because jump racing is a passion, but the opportunities are better over here," Conor added.

He proved he still has some of his Cheltenham luck when he met Sheikh Fahad Al Thani who sent him six horses.

Another of the major players, Coolmore, has also sent him some horses to break.

Despite being busy in the States, Conor could not resist placing a few ante-post bets ahead of flying over to Cheltenham this week.

"I'll be in Cheltenham for the week," he said. "I'll have a few bets on. Last year was a one off, but you have to try again just in case. You never know."

COMMENT: P24 RICHARD FORRISTAL'S CHELTENHAM COUNTDOWN: SPORT 32-33

Irish Independent

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