Oisin Murphy is taking nothing for granted – but looks virtually assured of retaining his jockeys’ championship crown after he stretched his lead to three thanks to a double at Haydock, with only one day of the season remaining.
Murphy, champion for the last two years, held a two-winner advantage heading to Merseyside – and a brace through Magisterial and Whitehaven, with William Buick having just the one, handed the initiative back to the title-holder with only Champions Day at Ascot to come.
Magisterial gave Murphy a well-timed success after Buick had won earlier on the card with Chairmanoftheboard.
Trained by John and Thady Gosden, the Frankel youngster Magisterial had been nibbled at in the Derby markets before running in the second division of the Casumo Horse Racing And Sports Betting EBF Novice Stakes.
Murphy said of the 4-9 favourite: “We went very steady and I knew it would turn into a bit of sprint. He showed nice gears to get there and he’s still learning – he’ll be a lovely horse in time.
“He’s never been in front before and he ran a lovely race first time in decent ground, so I think he’ll be gorgeous next year. I’m pleased with the way he behaved and he was really professional.”
Whitehaven gave Murphy an armchair ride when making all in the Gamble Responsibly With Casumo Handicap.
The even-money favourite, trained by Hughie Morrison, pulled away in the final furlong to score by four and a quarter lengths from Haveyoumissedme.
Murphy said: “It’s not over until the final whistle tomorrow, but a huge thank you must go to all the trainers who have put me up and all the owners who have supported me. It’s been a good day and hopefully tomorrow can be good as well as I ride some stars.
“I’ve done the best I can with the rides I can. Hughie has been unbelievable this year as have Andrew (Balding) and Ed Walker, while Sheikh Fahad has let me pick and choose where I can go – so it’s down to them.
“I was always going to ride them tomorrow how I see fit. I know each of Alcohol Free, Dragon Symbol, Tribal Craft and Sir Busker very well and the conditions will suit them – so they go there in good spirits.
“Dragon Symbol has had a long year, but he’s a star and one of the best sprinters around. If he didn’t run disappointingly at the Curragh – and he wasn’t at his best that day – he’d be a clear favourite tomorrow.”
Earlier Buick had moved to within one when Chairmanoftheboard came with a rattling late run to land the Download The Casumo App Handicap.
With a furlong and a half to go Buick appeared to have little chance of closing the gap, as Mick Channon’s sprinter looked flat out and seemingly going backwards.
However, as those in front began to tire in the testing ground, Buick began to get a real tune out of the 11-2 co-favourite.
Buick – who picked up a two-day ban for his use of the whip on Chairmanoftheboard – had a second with Dukedom in the Join Casumo Today Nursery Handicap, won by Tom Dascombe’s Amor Vincit Omnia (5-1)
Elsewhere on the card Kevin Ryan unleashed two nice horses in the first division of Magisterial’s race with Franz (15-2) coming out best. Stablemate Ravesnwell also ran well in fourth.
Ryan said: “They’ve both been slow burners and we’ve given them plenty of time. It’s only really in the last month or so that they’ve started to really come to hand and get their strength – both horses are still a bit weak so it was great to see them both run so well.
“He’s a horse we’ve liked all year, but he’s a horse we’re going to have to be patient with and he was always going to be a better three year old, so it’s just nice to get a run into him. You’re always a bit concerned with these young horses on quite testing ground, so they’re two nice horses going forward.
“We’re at the back end of the season now and we’ve seen enough to know they’re nice horses for next year.”