Champion jockey Oisin Murphy has spoken of his thrill after finishing second in the showjumping arena at Hickstead on Saturday.
Murphy competed in showjumping in his native Ireland in his youth but as his career as a jockey took off, it took a back seat in his affections.
With close friends still involved in the game, however, Murphy took the plunge to get back involved and while admitting to having “all the gear but no idea”, he excelled in coming second in a field of 31 in the British 1.10m Amateur Championship.
“Obviously racing takes priority, but I love watching showjumping and to get the chance to ride the other day was brilliant,” said Murphy.
“I haven’t done it since I was 14. On the days I’ve been suspended I’ve been going for lessons with Richard Howley based up in Yorkshire, he’s a talented Irish rider. Lucinda Roche is a friend of mine and has a yard in Coventry, we own a horse together.
“I love jumping horses, I’m a complete amateur but I really enjoyed it at the weekend.”
Murphy produced two clear rounds but could not beat Alice Clennan on Henry W. He was handed a wildcard into the event and admitted that added to the pressure.
He said: “I felt a little bit of extra pressure. I must admit I never really get nervous but walking the course in the main ring there was a little bit of pressure at not wanting to forget the course.
“I was on a nice horse (Tiger) who had competed at a higher level, so I just wanted everything to go right – thankfully it all went well.
“I was riding at Newmarket on Thursday, Friday and Saturday and in all that time I maybe went round one corner, going down to the 10/12 furlong start and then coming back. Doing that you just ride on instinct, but even at a low level of showjumping you have to remember the course.
“I think I need a lot more lessons but I got a great buzz going around there.
“If I had more time I could compete every weekend but I’ll speak to Sheikh Fahad and Sheikha Melissa (Al Thani, Qatar Racing bosses), and Jack Davenport who supplied me with the horse.
“There might be something I can do in August, we’ll see.
“I’ve got all the gear now but no idea – I’ve got the helmet, the boots, the britches and the jacket but it’s a lovely change of scenery.
“It gives me something else to think about. All my Irish friends I hadn’t seen in years, I’d only been able to watch them online – Michael Duffy from Galway, Michael Duffy from Mayo, Richard Howley, David Simpson, it’s great to watch them live for a change – they aren’t in the amateur classes though!”
When asked if it could be a second career when his time as a jockey is over, Murphy replied: “After a couple of million hours of lessons, perhaps!”