Monday 26 February 2018

Olly Murphy on stepping out of Gordon Elliott's shadow and early success in Britain

Olly Murphy (left) was formerly Gordon Elliott's assistant
Olly Murphy (left) was formerly Gordon Elliott's assistant

Gerard Mulvihill

Warren Chase Stables are located just five miles from Straford Upon Avon, the birthplace of William Shakespeare. The purpose of my visit however is to talk to trainer, Olly Murphy about a career still in its infancy.

It’s 10.30am on a humid Monday morning as Murphy strides towards me donning a Claret and blue Aston Villa zippy, “They’re the love of my life” he tells me. Yet, he could have lined out for rivals, Coventry City. A tricky winger with “a wicked left foot”, he was given a schoolboy contract, however the allure of racing proved irresistible.

Having enjoyed a fruitful four years as assistant trainer to Gordon Elliot, Murphy returned home earlier this year to launch his training career. He has saddled 51 runners to date – notching up 15 winners.

While cognisant of the fact that horses of the quality enjoyed while in Co. Meath are a thing of the past for now he makes no qualms of the fact that he is striving to emulate the success of his mentor. The best jockeys will be engaged in an attempt to expedite his ascent of the Trainers pyramid. “At the moment I use Richard Johnson as often as possible, I’ll use the best available – I’ve never been afraid to say that. When Davy Russell, Barry Geraghty and the like are over in the winter time - I’ll be using them”.

Recent acquisitions at the Ascot and Doncaster sales bring Olly’s current fleet north of the 20 mark. Among the new recruits is four year old mare Ayelya who shed her maiden tag in August, upstaging the Elliott trained, Canny Tom at Kilbeggan. To what degree does pedigree impinge on his choices, I query , “I probably wouldn’t look at pedigree as much with these type of horses as they aren’t top end – if I was buying top end I’d be looking a lot closer at pedigree, confirmation etc. Right now I’m looking for ones who have a little bit of form already and their limbs are intact. If there’s improvement in them that’s a bonus” he adds.

Murphy chats with me in the comfort of the owner’s lounge, adorned with racing photographs - Elliott features prominently. Olly tells me his treatment of horses is similar to Gordon’s approach in that he treats “a good horse the same way I treat a bad horse”. I’d be very conscious too of having the horses in the right race – if they’re not in the right race they can’t win”.

While based at Cullentra Stables, Murphy had much responsibility, however, the pressure in the cooker has certainly increased since deciding to go it alone. “When your training yourself it’s your name on the top of the door – if something goes wrong it’s my fault - when I was at Gordon’s if something went wrong it may have been my fault but his name was over the door. “I slept a lot better when at Gordon’s”, he jokes.

“It’s in our blood” is the slogan that graces the wall of his mother’s Moor Farm base - Anabel has trained since 1982 and his father Aiden is a prominent bloodstock agent. As an amateur Murphy amassed over 30 winners and knows that “things can go wrong, races change and horses can’t always be given good rides – you can’t always follow instructions”.

Forward thinking Murphy is expectant in relation to a number of his winter horses, “Mon Port bolted up in a bumper at Warwick and will be a nice one to go novice hurdling with. Captiva Island was with Gordon, placed in a couple of bumpers and looks a nice horse too”.

Having reached his maiden season target, Murphy is now in bonus territory, “At the start of the season I said I’d be delighted with 10 winners and I’ve managed 15 - It has been fantastic”. Undoubtedly, we’ll be hearing plenty more from Olly Murphy.

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