Murphy speaks of suffering alcoholic blackouts during lowest spell

Champion jockey Oisin Murphy has spoken of experiencing alcoholic blackouts during the period which ultimately led to his 14-month suspension from riding.

Murphy, who was crowned leading Flat jockey for a third time last year, was banned by the British Horseracing Authority in February after breaking Covid rules and failing two breath tests.

The rider admits he would drink so much at his worst that he would pass out, with alcohol a part of his daily life, despite previous efforts to quit.

Oisin Murphy with his champion jockey trophy at Ascot
Oisin Murphy with his champion jockey trophy at Ascot (Steven Paston/PA)

He told BBC Sport: “When I was happy I would drink, when I was sad I would drink.

“I put a lot of pressure on myself to achieve results, but I dealt with that pressure entirely in the wrong way.

“I might last a week or sometimes a month (without alcohol) but it would spiral out of control again.

“By the time Goodwood came around in August (2021) I had blacked out every night of that week. OK, I was probably blacking out very early in the evening so I was fine the next morning, but I really couldn’t deal with the pressure and by the Breeders’ Cup in November I was ready to stop riding.

“Whether I rode well or poorly that day, whether I had winners or no winners, I dealt with it the same way – I got in the car with my driver and I started drinking. I had no set plan as to what would be my last drink that evening.”

Oisin Murphy (right) together with Frankie Dettori in the Queen's colours at Epsom
Oisin Murphy (right) together with Frankie Dettori in the Queen’s colours at Epsom (Tim Goode/PA)

Murphy – who was part of a guard of honour formed by 40 of the Queen’s jockeys past and present at Epsom on Saturday – failed his second alcohol test at Newmarket last October and gave up his licence to seek support when he was charged by the BHA in December.

The majority of his suspension was imposed after he admitted he misled the BHA over his location for a handful of days in September 2020, broke Covid protocols and acted in a way that prejudiced the reputation of horse racing.

The Irishman had gone on holiday in September 2020 to the Greek island of Mykonos, which was on the Government’s Covid red list at the time, but he had attempted to convince officials he had been at Lake Como in Italy.

“When I booked the holiday it wasn’t on the red list, and when it went on the red list I should have immediately changed my plans. Unfortunately I didn’t,” he said.

“I made a massive mistake and I am suffering from the consequences of that now.”

Murphy will not be able to reapply for his licence until February 16 2023, with the rider saying he is now sober, seeking counselling and attending Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings after reaching “rock bottom”.

“I had to reach a level that I was happy and being content with doing very simple things. I’m very fortunate to live at the bottom of the gallops here in Lambourn and taking the dog for a walk and going to the local supermarket and buying shopping, and that might sound very strange but I really reached rock bottom in my eyes,” he said.

“I stayed off social media for a long time. I ended up being happy doing very normal stuff, and from then I started showjumping and getting back in the horse world, helping (trainer) Andrew Balding a couple of times a week and going racing irregularly.

“I feel like I have not got normality back in my life, but I’m wanted and needed again and that is a nice way to be.”

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