It was not always how Oisin Murphy would have liked his year to go off the track in 2021 – but on it he again proved champion material, winning the jockeys’ championship for the third time after a stirring battle with William Buick. Here we take a look at five of his high-profile domestic successes:
Alcohol Free – Sussex Stakes, Goodwood.
Andrew Balding’s star filly has provided Murphy with some great days – but her victory in the Sussex Stakes against the boys gave him plenty of pleasure, and rightly so. Up against 2000 Guineas and St James’s Palace winner Poetic Flare, Breeders’ Cup Mile victor Order Of St George, her Falmouth Stakes conqueror Snow Lantern and Summer Mile scorer Tilsit, Alcohol Free displayed a devastating turn of foot to give Murphy arguably his biggest thrill of the campaign.
Buzz – Cesarewitch, Newmarket
There is nothing better in racing than when a long-term plan comes together and that was the case in the Cesarewitch. Nicky Henderson might be better known for his jumpers, but he was winning the race for the third time so it was perhaps quite surprising Buzz was as big as 8-1 when news got out the champion jockey had been booked weeks in advance. The grey looked to have plenty to do when Burning Victory shot clear, but Murphy had saved just enough for the closing furlong to win one of the biggest handicaps of the season.
Berkshire Shadow – Coventry Stakes, Royal Ascot
It seems an age ago now, but the first day of Royal Ascot took place on fast ground in beautiful sunshine and Murphy got things spot on in the Coventry Stakes. A winner at Newbury on his debut, he was sent off 11-1 to remain unbeaten but had a wall of horses in front of him two furlongs out. As is typical of the Royal Ascot juvenile races, though, they had gone very fast in front – usually led by a Wesley Ward runner – and Murphy weaved his way through tired horses to hit the front close home.
Benbatl – Joel Stakes, Newmarket
Murphy will always hold Benbatl close to his heart given Saeed bin Suroor’s stalwart provided him with a first Royal Ascot winner in the Hampton Court Stakes way back in 2017. And the seven-year-old showed he is still capable of a high level of form at Newmarket. Narrowly denied on his return from a long absence in the Celebration Mile, the globetrotter had too much close home for some much younger rivals in the Group Two.
Starman – Duke of York Stakes, York
A slight setback prevented Ed Walker’s sprinter from turning up on Champions Day, meaning he was denied the crowning moment he probably deserved as he also won the July Cup and went close in the Prix Maurice de Gheest and Haydock Sprint Cup. Tom Marquand rode him in all those, but on his first run of the season he was claimed to ride Nahaarr for his boss William Haggas, meaning Murphy stepped in. The two fought out the finish with Starman just prevailing.