Sunday 25 August 2019

Murphy skips Kerry return to focus on champion bid

Oisín Murphy: 'Improving all the time'. Photo: Darren Staples/PA Wire
Oisín Murphy: 'Improving all the time'. Photo: Darren Staples/PA Wire
Michael Verney

Michael Verney

With his focus on trying to become British champion Flat jockey, there will be no opportunity for Oisín Murphy to return home to Killarney for this week's midsummer festival.

Irish eyes will shine on the Kingdom while one of their most famous sons rips it up across the Irish Sea as he hopes to usurp Silvestre de Sousa as British Flat racing's next champion pilot.

Murphy - nephew of three-time Cheltenham Gold Cup-winning jockey Jim Culloty - has been riding like a man possessed this season with 63 winners already on the board and the baby-faced assassin doesn't hide his intention to be crowned Flat king.

"I'm only 23 and I've got lots of energy, I'm not married and I don't have children, so there's no reason why I shouldn't dedicate all my energy towards day-to-day business," Murphy told the 'Racing Post'.

"I tried really hard last year to be champion jockey but Silvestre was away and gone at an early stage. Fortunately this year, I've ridden a lot more winners in that period, I think I'm riding better, I hope I'm improving all the time.

"You have a good run and then you hit a couple of days without a winner and, although it's normal, it can be easier said than done to stay really positive. You have to just pick yourself up and keep going."

Murphy left Kerry at 17 to earn his crust in England and his rise to the top of the game has been a rapid one as he hopes to build on a phenomenal tally of 198 winners last season en route to becoming champion jockey.

Back in Murphy's home town, punters will flock to see some decent action today with the Laurels Handicap Hurdle (7.50) the feature contest.

Gavin Cromwell is in scintillating form with 15 winners in the past two weeks and the Meath trainer is represented by Static Jack, which was just touched off on his debut for the Champion Hurdle-winning trainer at Down Royal last month.

The eight-year-old should make the frame but Irish Grand National fourth Snugsborough Benny is well treated compared to his chasing handicap mark - 24lbs lower over hurdles - and Liam Cusack's charge can land this under Denis O'Regan en route to contesting come decent chases later this summer.

Meanwhile, Martin Brassil expects impressive Ballymore Novices' Hurdle winner City Island to try his hand at fences next season.

"City Island is enjoying his summer break and will be back in a few weeks," Brassil said. "I schooled him over fences before he went out, and we were happy enough with what we saw. I'd say, more than likely, he will go chasing."

Irish Independent

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