Oisin Murphy crowned top jockey at Royal Ascot

A single victory on the final day helped Oisin Murphy secure top jockey honours for the first time at Royal Ascot.

Five winners were enough to seal the accolade for the 25-year-old champion jockey, who clinched the coveted prize aboard Foxes Tales for King Power Racing and trainer Andrew Balding.

“I wouldn’t have expected to get it – if you had asked me on Tuesday morning if I would be leading jockey I’d have said ‘of course not’,” said Murphy.

“It normally belongs to Ryan (Moore) and Frankie (Dettori), but they gave me a turn this week and thanks very much to the fast horses this week.

“It’s beyond my wildest dreams to be top jockey here. I watched this meeting with my parents and never thought this armband belonged with me. The last few days have been incredible.”

He added: “It’s special because as I’ve got older I’ve appreciated these days even more. I know I’m only 25, but life is precious. It’s a huge buzz.”

Asked for his highlight, Murphy nominated Friday’s Coronation Stakes heroine Alcohol Free, whose victory came just after Murphy had been demoted from first place aboard Dragon Symbol in the Commonwealth Cup.

Oisin Murphy enjoyed the victory of Alcohol Free
Oisin Murphy enjoyed the victory of Alcohol Free (David Davies/PA)

He said: “My best moment of the week was Alcohol Free. She came along at a very important time in my career last year – I was under a lot of pressure and I managed to nail a Group One (in the Cheveley Park Stakes) – and yesterday was a similar scenario. The pressure was on.”

Murphy was 4-9 favourite at the start of day five after doing the hard work earlier in the week and he had a full book of seven rides.

However, his first three mounts were unplaced and his luck appeared to be out when Starman was withdrawn from the Diamond Jubilee Stakes because of the soft ground.

Murphy was sill able to get a ride in the six-furlong Group One when he was allowed to switch to the Andrew Balding-trained Happy Power at the expense of Jim Crowley, and managed to finish fourth.

Murphy could be excused getting a little twitchy as the big prize went to Moore on Dream Of Dreams for Sir Michael Stoute.

It was Moore’s second of the day, and third of the meeting, after he struck first blood to give himself a sporting chance when taking the Chesham Stakes on Point Lonsdale.

The son of Australia, giving Aidan O’Brien a record sixth winner in the Listed contest, foiled Frankie Dettori on John and Thady Gosden’s Reach For The Moon, owned by the Queen.

Moore won the concluding Queen Alexandra Stakes on Stratum for Willie Mullins, but it was not enough for him to catch Murphy.

Oisin Murphy celebrates with Foxes Tales
Oisin Murphy celebrates with Foxes Tales (David Davies/PA)

William Buick also briefly had hope as he went to three with a superb victory on David Menuisier’s wonder filly Wonderful Tonight in the Hardwicke Stakes. But there was ultimately no stopping Murphy.

Despite the success of Foxes Tales, Balding was edged out by John and Thady Gosden for top trainer honours on countback, with both outfits finishing on four winners.

Gosden senior said: “First of all, we had the most glorious weather for three days – cool on Thursday, stunningly hot and summer on Tuesday and Wednesday, and great racing under those conditions. It was wonderful to see people back in here; 10,000 people, all socially distanced, tests taken.

“There is no doubt with the rain that came heavily here on the Friday, the Ascot executive and all the ground staff did a magnificent job in changing some of the railing, organising to get away from some of the places that were a little bit waterlogged, and we raced right through yesterday and right through today.

Palace Pier was one of the stars of the week in the Queen Anne
Palace Pier was one of the stars of the week in the Queen Anne (Steven Paston/PA)

“Fabulous racing and horses seemed in great order, and I think it’s a testament to willpower that it’s been pulled off with Government blessing to go ahead, and I think it’s a very safe environment. Of course, we are in big, open spaces, and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves, but it was very safe at the same time.

“The first race on the first day, Palace Pier, was wonderful for us. The Gold Cup – we didn’t have the best trip (with Stradivarius), but I thought the winner (Subjectivist) was the best horse, and I think he won in great style.

“We had a great meeting with some fillies winning Group Two races, and it was a good atmosphere here – safe, sensible and people actually coming out and living their lives again.”

A one-two for trainer Charlie Appleby with Creative Force and Naval Crown in the Jersey Stakes ensured Godolphin were leading owners with three winners.

Godolphin managing director Hugh Anderson said: “I am delighted for everyone at Godolphin and of course His Highness Sheikh Mohammed. This has already been a memorable season for Godolphin with Derby success and to be crowned Royal Ascot Leading Owner once again is very special.

“We hope for more success throughout the rest of the year.”

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