Just a few years back Oisin Murphy was fresh from the British Racing School, still very much learning his trade as an exciting apprentice.
Murphy is a nephew of the Cheltenham Gold Cup winning jockey Jim Culloty. He started out on the Irish Pony Racing circuit and also rode out for Tommy Stack and Aidan O'Brien while still at school. The spell at Ballydoyle, studying jockeys such as Joseph O’Brien, would prove to be a valuable learning experience.
Murphy announced himself as a major young talent when riding a four-timer, including in the feature, on Scottish racing's Ayr Gold Cup day in September 2013. Still an 18-year-old apprentice under Andrew Balding’s guidance, the achievement was quite exceptional. A successful winter in Australia followed riding for leading trainer Danny O'Brien, before returning to secure the champion apprentice crown of 2014.
The young jockey clearly gained a great deal from his period in Oz, and was interviewed at the time speaking of the experience: “It’s been great so far and I’m learning a lot. It’s very different but it’s been a great experience. Danny O’Brien has been very good to me, and it’s great to be learning new things and riding at different tracks against different jockeys.”
His success continued during last summer, with a first Group victory coming in the Temple Stakes at Haydock, when making all on Qatar Racing’s Hot Streak. He then picked up the ride on 100/1 outsider Red Galileo in his first Epsom Derby. It was a huge opportunity for the youngster, and he rode the horse to a terrific fifth place finish.
Murphy rode out his claim at Sandown last July, and in the autumn it was announced he would be joining Qatar Racing and Pearl Bloodstock, along with Andrea Atzeni, as retained rider. The dream move showed just how much of an impact he has made in such a short period.
A winter in the UAE followed, and with it further success in the Group 3 Abu Dhabi Championship aboard Dormello. The jockey had previously won on the Sheikh Ahmed Al Maktoum horse at Jebel ali in February.
Just over a week ago Murphy secured a first Classic as his mount Karpino, trained by Andreas Wohler, roared to victory in the German 2,000 Guineas. The 19-year-old was riding the unbeaten Pearl Bloodstock owned colt for the first time. He was given an armchair ride on the son of Cape Cross, and stormed to an easy victory. The horse looks set to take in the German Derby next time out.
Back in the UK, Murphy rode Queen Catrine to victory on Monday at Leicester. He is booked to ride Andreas Wohler’s Rogue Runner in the Epsom Derby on Saturday. Though a Wohler double is unlikely on the 50/1 shot, he did manage fifth on a 100/1 outsider last year, and will be hopeful of another exciting trip to the Downs.
A season of ‘Big Saturday’ rides, along with the leg-up on classy horses throughout Europe and beyond is a dream come true for the talented teenager.