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Dettori and Doyle among Racing League jockeys

Frankie Dettori, Oisin Murphy, Jim Crowley and Hollie Doyle are among the top jockeys who will be in action in the new Racing League competition this summer.

Dettori is one of three riders, along with Jamie Spencer and Luke Morris, for the Newmarket team of trainers John Gosden, Sir Mark Prescott, Robert Cowell and David Simcock.

Champion jockey Murphy will be riding for the Andrew Balding and Richard Hannon partnership. Hayley Turner and Sean Levey are his teammates.

Murphy said: “This is an exciting innovation and considering the prize money there should be fierce competition between the teams. I look forward to being involved.”

Oisin Murphy is looking forward to the competition
Oisin Murphy is looking forward to the competition (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

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Turner said: “It’s great that the racing industry has decided to try something a bit different. I know the jockeys and the trainers are all really excited. I think it will help to capture a non-racing audience and be a fun event all round.”

Crowley has Hector Crouch and Pat Cosgrave in his group for trainers George Baker, David Menuisier, Gary Moore and Amanda Perrett.

Doyle has Jack Mitchell and Cieren Fallon in her corner for another Newmarket combo of Michael Bell, Ed Dunlop, James Fanshawe and Roger Varian.

There is also an Irish team from the stables of Donnacha and Joseph O’Brien, with Saudi Cup and Dubai Sheema Classic-winning rider David Egan combining with Gavin Ryan and Dylan Browne McMonagle.

Team France are currently awaiting confirmation of regulations surrounding Brexit and Covid-19 before announcing further details regarding their nominated jockeys.

Each jockey will be able to ride in a maximum of 18 of the 36 races in the competition.

In addition to the prize money on offer, jockeys will also be vying for a £50,000 prize pot awarded to the three jockeys who score the most points.

Twelve teams in all will compete at six meetings, featuring six races over six consecutive Thursday summer nights, starting at Newcastle on July 29.

Points will be awarded from first to 10th in each race, with the highest scoring team over all 36 races winning the league.

Oli Harris, Racing League’s chief marketing officer, said “We’re delighted that the teams have now confirmed their jockeys. The likes of Hollie, Oisin and Frankie will no doubt grab the headlines, but we are also excited to have some of the most talented up and coming jockeys in UK and Ireland on board, as well as experienced campaigners such as Paul Hanagan, Martin Dwyer and Jamie Spencer.

“This is an important step in painting a complete picture of the Racing League.

“We will follow this by announcing the principal naming partner of each team, before the 30 horses in each team’s squad are selected in July.”

Oisin Murphy raring to go for World Cup night

Oisin Murphy wants to “hit the ground running” as he returns to big-race action at Meydan on Saturday.

The dual British champion jockey recently resumed riding after serving a three-month suspension, partnering winners at Chelmsford and Wolverhampton last week before jetting out to Dubai for the World Cup card.

Murphy admits Meydan had been in his sights while he was sidelined.

He said: “(I’m) really pleased to be here, it’s been the target for a couple of months now. I’ve picked up a couple of rides and let’s see how they go.

“That’s what’s kept me going (riding in the big races). I’m fit and ready to kick off my season. I’d been busy before I came out here, I had a few winners so it would be nice to hit the ground running on Saturday.”

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Murphy has five rides, kicking off with Urban Icon in the Godolphin Mile, with the three-times British winner now representing Saudi Arabian handler Saud Saad Alkahtani.

Murphy said: “He’s a horse I know from England when he was trained by Richard Hannon. He ran a super race in Saudi on turf and he’s switching to dirt and stepping up in distance.

“The horse is fit and he’s the highest rated in the race so if he does acclimatise to the change in conditions, hopefully he will go very well.”

Murphy then rides Royal Marine in the Dubai Gold Cup for Saeed bin Suroor, with the one-time Classic hope taking a huge hike in trip to two miles.

He said: “He’s going a long way up in distance, but he works very good and if he relaxes he can be bang there – that’s the key.

“His inside draw (one) is very good, so let’s see what Saeed thinks, although he normally gives me very good rides and it’s great to be teaming up with him again.”

Murphy also rides Lugamo in the UAE Derby and Felix in the Dubai Turf, but he is particularly relishing taking the reins aboard Japanese challenger Loves Only You in the Longines Dubai Sheema Classic.

He said: “She’s a Japanese Oaks winner, she comes into this on the back of a Grade Two victory, she’s very fit as well and this has been her plan for a long time.

“It’s nice to get the leg-up from Mr Yahagi and her owners. I’ve been lucky on Japanese horses in the past, so hopefully this one follows that routine.

“Loves Only You has been the one I’ve been concentrating on for weeks and weeks, of course I’ll do my best on all of them, but she’s a star.”

Loves Only You clashes with John Gosden’s Saudi Cup winner Mishriff in the Sheema Classic, with the British runner having been drawn widest of all in stall 10 for the mile-and-a-half contest.

Aidan O’Brien’s Mogul, conversely, has been drawn hard on the inside in stall one.

Oisin Murphy return delayed pending completion of reinstatement testing

Oisin Murphy’s return to action has been delayed after the rider failed to complete the medical requirements set out by the British Horseracing Authority.

The champion jockey was due to make his comeback with three rides at Lingfield on Friday following a three-month suspension.

He was banned after a drugs test at Chantilly in July showed metabolites of cocaine. He strenuously denied taking the drug and requested a B sample.

Upon receiving the results, France Galop held a hearing where the rider’s defence of environmental contamination from a sexual encounter and scientific hair test evidence was accepted.

Oisin Murphy had planned to ride at Lingfield
Oisin Murphy had planned to ride at Lingfield (Dan Abraham/PA)

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However, early on Friday morning, Murphy posted on Twitter that he would be unable to take up his mounts at Lingfield and further rides at Chelmsford on Saturday due to an “administrative error”.

The BHA later clarified the situation in a statement, saying Murphy had not yet completed the necessary testing to return to competitive action.

The statement said: “Prior to returning to riding from a suspension of this nature, jockeys may be required to complete a course of testing, alongside other requirements, in order for the BHA’s chief medical adviser to confirm their safe return to race riding.

“On February 22 Mr Murphy contacted the BHA about his intended return to race riding. The BHA liaised with him and the PJA from this point onwards, including in regards to his testing requirements.

“On March 2 Mr Murphy was reminded of the requirements and that it is his responsibility to complete the necessary tests before a return to riding.

“As of March 12 Mr Murphy is only part way through his reinstatement testing, and he is therefore unable to ride at this point.

“Upon completion of the necessary processes satisfactorily, Mr Murphy will be able to return to riding.”

Murphy had earlier tweeted: “At 18.50 yesterday I was personally informed by the BHA due to an administrative error I will not be able to partner my rides at Lingfield today and Chelmsford on Saturday.

“I’m currently looking into this situation with the BHA and I plan to be back on the racetrack as soon as I possibly can.

“I apologise profusely to all the owners, trainers and supporters who I’m having to let down at such late notice. It’s 128 days since my last ride in the UK.”

Murphy later added: “Please note I can’t arrange testing personally. Only the BHA have the ability to do so. I’ve been available + completed all the tests thus far.”

Oisin Murphy return delayed by ‘administrative error’

Oisin Murphy’s planned return to action at Lingfield on Friday following a three-month suspension has been delayed due to an “administrative error”.

The champion jockey was banned after a drugs test at Chantilly in July showed metabolites of cocaine. He strenuously denied taking the drug and requested a B sample.

Upon receiving the results, France Galop held a hearing where the rider’s defence of environmental contamination from a sexual encounter and scientific hair test evidence was accepted.

He was due to take up three rides on Friday and a further five at Chelmsford on Saturday, but posted on Twitter: “At 18.50 yesterday I was personally informed by the BHA due to an administrative error I will not be able to partner my rides at Lingfield today and Chelmsford on Saturday.

“I’m currently looking into this situation with the BHA and I plan to be back on the racetrack as soon as I possibly can.

“I apologise profusely to all the owners, trainers and supporters who I’m having to let down at such late notice. It’s 128 days since my last ride in the UK.”

Oisin Murphy raring to go on return to action

Champion jockey Oisin Murphy is looking forward to returning to action at Lingfield on Friday following the conclusion of his three-month suspension.

Murphy was banned after a drugs test at Chantilly in July showed metabolites of cocaine. He strenuously denied taking the drug and requested a B sample.

Upon receiving the results, France Galop held a hearing where the rider’s defence of environmental contamination from a sexual encounter and scientific hair test evidence was accepted.

He returns with three rides, Rain Gauge and Sky Commander for James Tate and He Can Dance for Sylvester Kirk.

“I’m looking forward to it. I’ve been riding out for the last month and Oaksey House have been super. I’ve a personal trainer named Gavin and he pushes my pretty hard,” said Murphy.

“I’ve watched a lot of racing, the Saudi Cup meeting was a huge success.

“All the big races in Japan have given me plenty of excitement at the weekends, particularly at Christmas and the New Year. Contrail and Daring Tact are outstanding horses.

“I want to be busy and get in riding out in different stables before Dubai World Cup night. Hopefully April will be kind both with opportunities and weather-wise.

Alcohol Free (left) is one of the horses Oisin Murphy is looking forward to riding in 2021
Alcohol Free (left) is one of the horses Oisin Murphy is looking forward to riding in 2021 (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

“I’ve been fortunate to ride for top trainers and owners over the last few years and I want to retain those relationships.”

Asked which horses he was most looking forward to renewing acquaintances with he said: “Alcohol Free is already a Group One winner. She’s done well physically over the winter and I’m a big fan of hers. There’s also a filly Qatar (Racing) have with Hugo Palmer, Ocean Road, who I like, she’s had just the two starts.

“On World Cup night I’ll be riding Loves Only You from Japan in the Sheema Classic. She won the Japanese Oaks and is coming into the race off the back of a Group Two win.”

Coral make Murphy their 7-4 favourite to retain his title.

Murphy returns to action at Lingfield

Champion jockey Oisin Murphy will return to action following his drugs ban with three rides at Lingfield on Friday.

The champion jockey was banned for three months after a racecourse test, taken at Chantilly in July, found traces of cocaine in his system.

Having always strenuously denied he had taken any drugs, Murphy requested a B sample – and upon receiving the results, France Galop held a hearing where the rider’s defence of environmental contamination from a sexual encounter and scientific hair test evidence was accepted.

Murphy’s suspension took into account his defence, and he will launch his comeback aboard Rain Gauge in the Play Ladbrokes 5-A-Side On Football Novice Stakes at the Surrey venue.

Rain Gauge’s trainer James Tate has also booked Murphy for Sky Commander in the Bombardier British-Hopped Amber Beer Handicap, while the rider will complete his relatively low-key return aboard the Sylvester Kirk-trained He Can Dance in the Get Your Ladbrokes Daily Odds Boost Handicap.

Oisin Murphy considered quitting riding during cocaine ban

Oisin Murphy admitted he thought about quitting racing altogether while serving a drugs ban.

The champion jockey was banned for three months in November after a racecourse test, taken at Chantilly in July, found traces of cocaine in his system.

Having always strenuously denied he had taken any drugs, Murphy requested a B sample – and upon receiving the results, France Galop held a hearing where the rider’s defence of environmental contamination from a sexual encounter and scientific hair test evidence was accepted.

Murphy’s three-month suspension took into account his defence, and is due to expire on March 11.

That will mark the end of a period where the 25-year-old Irishman said he felt his mental health deteriorate to the extent that he began to question whether he would return to the sport at all.

Speaking on the My Sporting Mind podcast, he described the experience of awaiting the judgement and the subsequent effect on his performance.

He said: “The first time I realised I was facing a suspension was August, and I didn’t know when I was going to be suspended and for how long, so that was quite stressful.

“I didn’t ride very well. On average I ride between 15 and 22 per cent rides to winners, in August that took a major dip and as a result my confidence and my whole outlook on life did as well.

“I remember not sleeping for days on end – I might get an hour here and wake up there, your mood changes and you don’t want to speak to anybody.”

At that stage Murphy was still leading the British Flat jockeys’ championship, a title he was attempting to defend having first won it in 2019.

Oisin Murphy is crowned Champion Jockey by athlete Katarina Johnson-Thompson during QIPCO British Champions Day at Ascot Racecourse
Oisin Murphy is crowned Champion Jockey by athlete Katarina Johnson-Thompson during QIPCO British Champions Day at Ascot Racecourse (Simon Cooper/PA)

After a decline in form as the case took its toll, Murphy found rivals William Buick and Tom Marquand were both beginning to gain ground at the top end of the table.

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“I had led the whole way from the flag fall in this jockeys’ championship, which means so much to me,” he said.

“It’s like winning the Premiership in football or like being Lewis Hamilton in Formula One. I’m not suggesting horse racing is any way like that, but for me, that’s how important it is.

“I knew I had great people behind me, from Qatar Racing, who employ me, to all the people who put me on these majestic animals on a day-to-day basis, but not everyone was fighting my corner, it was still very much up in the air.”

Ultimately Murphy did triumph, riding eight more winners than Buick and gaining a much-needed boost to his confidence in the process.

Oisin Murphy after winning his first Classic race, the Qipco 2000 Guineas at Newmarket Racecourse, aboard Kameko
Oisin Murphy after winning his first Classic race, the Qipco 2000 Guineas at Newmarket Racecourse, aboard Kameko (Edward Whitaker/PA)

“I thought the season was going to be defined in one of two ways – if I didn’t win the jockeys’ championship, it was going to be a season where I had allowed what was going on around me to defeat me.

“If I could get it over the line, I’d prove that when most people would have crumbled, when most people would have thrown in the towel, I picked myself up off the floor.”

Despite the victory, Murphy still harboured doubts over whether he would return to racing at all once the ban had expired.

“I wasn’t sure if I wanted to ride again or when I wanted to race-ride again,” he said.

“I felt the world had turned against me over something I didn’t mean to happen.

“I spent a couple of weeks thinking about what I should do, when I say I wouldn’t get back on a horse, I’d still watch showjumping and ride as a hobby, but (I wondered) whether I wanted to race-ride again.

Murphy during a meeting at Salisbury in September
Murphy during a meeting at Salisbury in September (PA)

“I wasn’t entirely comfortable – the higher you climb, the further you fall.”

Murphy, who was champion apprentice in 2014 and is the retained rider for Sheikh Fahad’s Qatar Racing operation, was supported in his decision to return by his idol Frankie Dettori, who himself served a six-month ban following a positive test for cocaine in 2012.

“When he came back, the racing public, and I can say this because I was there, they’d written him off,” Murphy recalled.

“I remember walking into Lingfield Park one day, he was sat with his legs crossed, he was overweight, he didn’t look like a jockey, he was miserable, he wasn’t speaking to anybody, he was very low.

“Then a couple of months later he turned his career around. He got the job with Al Shaqab and started riding for John Gosden, and suddenly, from his whole mental and physical well-being being demoralised and non-existent, he managed to climb back up.

Oisin Murphy with Roaring Lion and Sheikh Fahad Al Thani, whose Qatar Racing operation retains the jockey
Oisin Murphy with Roaring Lion and Sheikh Fahad Al Thani, whose Qatar Racing operation retains the jockey (PA)

“The last three years he’s been the number one jockey in the world and he’s the face of world racing, so I really admire him and really draw on him for inspiration sometimes.”

Dettori is one of a number of racing figures whose support for Murphy never wavered, with the Qatar Racing team and Andrew Balding, with whom Murphy spent his apprenticeship, also credited for their loyalty.

“He keeps telling me not to go off the rails,” he said of Dettori.

“People were worried and he was one of them, my employers and lots of people, even now I get text messages from people just checking that I haven’t done anything stupid and I haven’t been drinking excessively or anything.”

Oisin Murphy (centre) beside trainer and former employer Andrew Balding (right)
Oisin Murphy (centre) beside trainer and former employer Andrew Balding (right) (John Walton/PA)

Murphy will return to the saddle on March 12, a comeback that will be initially low-key as the British Flat season does not begin to gather pace until April.

However, Dubai’s World Cup meeting is held on March 27, a fixture Murphy has scheduled as his first major engagement since the suspension.

“For people who are really interested in (Flat) racing, March isn’t a very exciting month apart from Dubai World Cup night, but I’ve picked up some super rides from the Japanese there,” he explained.

“That’s a really welcome surprise, I wasn’t expecting anything there.”

Not only has Murphy resolved to return, he is also intent on reaching the same heights he has scaled previously and overwriting any negative connotations that may follow him.

“I’m in top spirits, but I need to achieve again, I can’t just roll back into the jockeys’ room and go around riding five horses a day and maybe winning on one,” he said.

“If I make it my intention to come back, then I really have to do well.

“Now it’s the chance to come back and try to prove myself to people again and say ‘Don’t write me off, please. Give me another chance’.”

Murphy vows to ‘put things right’ as he serves riding ban

Oisin Murphy has voiced his determination to “put things right” as he prepares to begin his three-month riding ban after testing positive for metabolites of cocaine.

Murphy, who was crowned Britain’s champion Flat jockey for the second successive year last month, failed a test at Chantilly on July 19 – having ridden The Lir Jet, owned by his bosses, Qatar Racing.

Having always strenuously denied he had taken any drugs, Murphy requested a B sample – and upon receiving the results, France Galop held a hearing on November 25, where the rider’s defence of environmental contamination from a sexual encounter and scientific hair test evidence was accepted.

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Murphy’s three-month suspension took into account his defence, and will run from December 11 until March 11.

Speaking to BBC Sport, Murphy admitted he had witnessed cocaine being used the night before travelling to France.

Murphy said: “I became aware of a situation where cocaine was present in my environment and I saw it there and didn’t remove myself from that situation immediately.

“When you sign for your jockey’s licence every year you have got to abide by the rules.

“That was my error, and I very much have no self-pity. I made a mistake and I’ve got to live with the consequences.

“I got up the next morning and went to France and thought nothing of it. But I should have thought much more of it, and that was the block I have stumbled on.”

Oisin Murphy is a dual champion jockey
Oisin Murphy is a dual champion jockey (Simon Cooper/PA)

Murphy plans to use his time out of the saddle to reflect on what has happened.

He added: “I’ve never taken cocaine. I made a massive error and I’m missing out on plenty. I should be in Japan this time of the year, I love riding there. I’m going to miss the big races in Saudi Arabia and Super Saturday in Dubai.

“But I need to put things right and I need to use my time over the next three months to do the right thing and take the right step.

“This is going to go down on my CV – nobody is going to forget about this overnight.

“I’ve projected myself as a good ambassador for the sport, but clearly a good ambassador for the sport doesn’t fail a drug test, no matter how minimal that quantity is.”

Cocaine ban interrupts Murphy’s rise to top of profession

Oisin Murphy’s three-month suspension as a result of testing positive for metabolites of cocaine brings a temporary halt to a career which has seen him rise to the top of his profession over the last few seasons.

Murphy – who vigorously contested the findings of France Galop following a test at Chantilly on July 19 – was recently confirmed as champion jockey in Britain for the second time with 142 winners, topping the table on June 8 and never being headed.

His maiden title in 2019 was the icing on the cake for a career that has seen the Cork-born rider collect Group One victories around the world on a regular basis.

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Further lustre was added to his CV this year with a first Classic triumph, courtesy of the Andrew Balding-trained Kameko in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket. The victory came in the colours of Qatar Racing, for whom he was appointed number one jockey in 2016.

Murphy, 25, began riding in the UK in 2013 and quickly made an impact, crowned champion apprentice in 2014 – yet another beneficiary of the Balding academy which has also produced the likes of William Buick, appropriately his closest pursuer in this year’s title race.

His first Group One triumph came aboard Aclaim for Martyn Meade in the Prix de la Foret in 2017, and there have been many more since – including a famous success in the Japan Cup aboard Suave Richard in 2019, a win Murphy described as a “dream come true”.

He recorded three top-level triumphs in Britain in 2020, including Dream Of Dreams for Sir Michael Stoute in the Sprint Cup at Haydock.

He also rode his 1,000th domestic winner at the end of October on the Michael Dods-trained Perfect Sign, in the Qatar colours.

He told Sky Sports Racing afterwards: “I ride for great people, and it’s really nice to get my 1,000th in these colours.

“When you start out as an apprentice, you hope to just get one winner – hopefully I can ride 1,000 more in the future.

“I ride good horses all over the world – I’m very privileged and I have to remember that.”

Murphy is one of a new breed of jockeys who communicate well with the public, be it in television interviews or on social media, and that will stand him in good stead when the time comes for his return in March.

Murphy faces three-month ban after positive cocaine test

Champion jockey Oisin Murphy has been banned for three months by France Galop after testing positive for metabolites of cocaine.

Murphy, who successfully defended his title this season, failed a test at Chantilly on July 19 – having ridden The Lir Jet, owned by his bosses, Qatar Racing.

Having always strenuously denied he had taken any drugs, Murphy requested a B sample – and upon receiving the results, France Galop held a hearing on Wednesday.

The ban will run from December 11 until March 11.

Murphy won the 2000 Guineas earlier this year on Kameko for Andrew Balding
Murphy won the 2000 Guineas earlier this year on Kameko for Andrew Balding (PA)

In similar cases the punishment has been a six-month suspension, however, the panel were persuaded by a combination of a hair sample and Murphy’s testimony that the positive test arose from an unintentional, environmental contamination.

Murphy has announced he will not appeal against the suspension, which ends before the Flat Turf season begins in Britain on March 27.

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In a statement issued through the Professional Jockeys Association, he said: “I would like to thank France Galop and the panel of Commissioners for a fair hearing and for accepting the evidence I presented that I had not taken cocaine.

“This evidence included my hair sample results – the results of which I am making public today – and an expert witness statement from an eminent toxicology and anti-doping expert.

“Whilst I am obviously disappointed that I will still have to serve a three-month suspension, I am pleased the Commissioners accepted the evidence presented and am hugely relieved to have been cleared of taking cocaine.

“I respect the rules of France Galop, respect their decision and will not be appealing.  Despite my relief, I regretfully put myself in a situation whereby cocaine has been able to filter into my system through environmental contamination and must live with the consequences.

“As a professional sportsman I cannot put myself in a similar situation again.

“Even though I have been exonerated from taking cocaine, I would like to take this opportunity to apologise to Sheikh Fahad al Thani, David Redvers and Andrew Balding and thank them for their support.

Murphy has been crowned champion jockey for the last two years
Murphy has been crowned champion jockey for the last two years (Simon Cooper/PA)

“I also want to thank my legal team, particularly Florence Gaudilliere, who represented me in France but also Rory Mac Neice, the Professional Jockeys Association,  Johnno Spence and others who have advised and supported me throughout.

“Finally, I would also like to apologise to the whole Qatar Racing team, to the owners and trainers I ride for, my supporters, my weighing room colleagues and to my commercial partners as well as Racing to School.

“The next three months will give me much time to reflect on my actions, but I will learn from this experience and come back better and even more determined than before.”

Balding, who handed Murphy his big breakthrough as an apprentice jockey, said: “Oisin Murphy arrived at Kingsclere in 2012 and is very much part of the Park House family. I have been very proud to watch him thrive in the saddle, but also as an ambassador for the sport.

Andrew Balding and Oisin Murphy following Kameko's Guineas win
Andrew Balding and Oisin Murphy following Kameko’s Guineas win (Edward Whitaker/PA)

“Oisin is a kind, trustworthy and dedicated part of the team. I never doubted he was innocent, but I know this will really hurt him and I will make sure we do everything to help him return as a stronger and better person.”

The British Horseracing Authority confirmed it would reciprocate Murphy’s French ban.

A statement said: “The BHA is a signatory to the International Agreement between racing nations. All signatories to the Agreement must include within its Rules a provision that suspensions incurred in recognised racing authorities must be reciprocated.

“Therefore any suspension would automatically reciprocated as and when we are alerted to it by an internationally recognised body.”

Oisin Murphy confirmed as champion jockey once more

Oisin Murphy will officially be crowned Britain’s champion Flat jockey for a second time at Doncaster on Saturday after William Buick’s faint hopes of lifting the crown ended at Newcastle on Friday evening.

Reigning champion Murphy signed off for the season with a double at Southwell on Tuesday to take his tally for the campaign to 142, after which he headed for Kentucky to ride The Lir Jet and Kameko at the Breeders’ Cup.

Buick closed the gap to nine with a winner at Kempton on Wednesday and a double at the same venue on Thursday – but his championship ambitions were dealt a major blow after Thursday’s card was abandoned after three races due to fog, meaning Buick missed four rides.

With seven booked rides on the final afternoon at Doncaster on Saturday, Buick needed to steer home at least two winners from four mounts at Newcastle to keep the title race alive.

After finishing fourth aboard Mustarrid in the first race and second on Frow in division one of the seven-furlong handicap, Buick was relying on Strong Steps to win division two to make a title win mathematically possible.

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However, the Jim Goldie-trained eight-year-old could manage only sixth place, forcing Buick to admit defeat in his gallant pursuit of a first jockeys’ championship.

Murphy told Great British Racing: “I’m incredibly proud to have won a second champion jockey title and I’m extremely thankful for the team around me that have enabled me to do so – my agent, manager, driver, form-man, and family.

“It’s huge to win two jockeys’ championships in two years and beyond my wildest dreams. I tried my absolute best to do so and thank you to everyone who has helped along the way.

“I’m particularly proud of my strike rate for Andrew Balding. Sheikh Fahad allowed me to go wherever I wanted to and for that I must thank him and all the team at Qatar Racing too.”

Amongst his 142 wins, Murphy claimed his maiden Classic success when securing the 2000 Guineas aboard the Balding-trained Kameko.

Balding, who trained 45 of Murphy’s winners overall, said: “Oisin has been an integral part of Kingsclere’s success since he joined us as an apprentice, and this year has been no different.

“We have enjoyed 45 wins together this season, but the obvious one that stands out is of course Kameko’s win in the 2000 Guineas, that was such a special day for everyone involved. To also win another Group One in the Cheveley Park Stakes with Alcohol Free was a brilliant moment for the yard.

“Oisin set out to win the champion jockey title again this year and his hard work and dedication is exactly why he has achieved that goal. He is a great person to have around the yard and we are delighted for him.”

Like Murphy, Cieren Fallon is also a successful defending champion – becoming the first jockey to retain the apprentice title in 32 years.

Fallon, 21, who finished the campaign on 43 wins, including a first Group One triumph, aboard Oxted in the July Cup, repeats the achievement of Gary Bardwell who won consecutive apprentice titles in 1987 and 1988.

It is a double for Qatar, too, as Fallon was recently second jockey to Murphy.

Fallon said: “It’s an amazing achievement for me, it is something I set out to do after the success of last year. I’ve been very lucky to have the people I have around me to help me achieve these goals – my jockey coach, nutritionist, a great boss in Sheikh Fahad, William and Maureen Haggas, my mum and dad.

“They are all the best at what they do, so I’m very lucky to be in the position.”

He added: “Winning the July Cup with Oxted is obviously the greatest highlight of my year and a memorable day.”

Kameko pleases connections ahead of Mile mission

Classic hero Kameko delighted connections as he enjoyed a solo spin on the turf course at Keeneland ahead of his FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Mile assignment.

The 2000 Guineas winner endured a luckless run during the summer, but bounced back to form with victory in the Joel Stakes at Newmarket at the end of September and will be bidding to bow out in a blaze of glory in Saturday’s Grade One contest.

Regular rider Oisin Murphy was on board on Thursday morning as the son of Kitten’s Joy worked on his own, with the rider allowing him to open up coming round the bend and down the stretch in what was an eyecatching effort.

Murphy said: “He gets a bit lazy on his own, looking at everything, but he did enough. He had a little blow, nothing more than normal. He’s very fit and ready to go – all the hard work is done now.”

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David Redvers, racing manager to owner Qatar Racing was also trackside to watch Kameko’s gallop.

He added: “(I’m) absolutely delighted, he had a proper blow there, and more importantly Oisin is absolutely delighted. His skin looks great, he’s moving really well and loving that quicker surface, so it’s all to play for now.

“It’s beautiful ground, absolutely beautiful.”

Kameko claimed Classic glory at Newmarket back in June
Kameko claimed Classic glory at Newmarket back in June (Edward Whitaker/PA)

Redvers will welcome Kameko to Tweenhills Stud in Gloucestershire following his American run, with the colt due to start his stallion career in the new year.

“He will be coming straight to Tweenhills from the airport when he lands, so he’ll be coming to do the job he’s earned,” Redvers added.

Kameko was one of a number of European raiders in action, with Aidan O’Brien’s sizeable team – which includes the likes of Magical, Mogul and Battleground – all stretching their legs.

The Ballydoyle horses worked in two groups, with Battleground in the smaller batch, as O’Brien’s squad walked round the track anti-clockwise for a circuit before turning and cantering back the right way to acquaint themselves.

Frankie Dettori was also on course to pair up with New Mandate, whom he rides in Friday’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile also featuring fellow Ralph Beckett inmate Devilwala and Battleground.

Beckett was on hand to watch his duo enjoy a decent blowout ahead of their big-race date.

Champion Oisin Murphy reaches 1,000 winners milestone

Oisin Murphy reached 1,000 domestic career winners aboard Perfect Sign at Southwell.

The champion jockey achieved the landmark on the Michael Dods-trained juvenile with victory over Sealed Offer by two and three-quarter lengths – in the colours of his retained owner, Qatar Racing, edging closer to retaining his title.

As well as being successful in the UK, Murphy, 25, has had winners all over Europe and the rest of the world.

Born in Cork, he began riding in the UK in 2013 and quickly made an impact, being crowned champion apprentice in 2014.

He was appointed number one jockey for Qatar Racing in 2016, and in June this year secured his first Classic success – landing the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket with Kameko, in the Qatar colours.

Murphy told Sky Sports Racing: “I ride for great people, and it’s really nice to get my 1,000th in these colours.

“The filly is in the sale on Thursday, so it’s a good moment.

“When you start out as an apprentice you hope to just get one winner – hopefully I can ride 1,000 more in the future.

“I ride good horses all over the world – I’m very privileged and I have to remember that.”

Murphy is already looking to the future, including on Kameko next week when Andrew Balding’s colt is due to run the last race of his career at the Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland.

“We’ve been so lucky to find good horses over the years,” he added.

Kameko and Oisin Murphy will be heading to the Breeders' Cup next week
Kameko and Oisin Murphy will be heading to the Breeders’ Cup next week (Edward Whitaker/PA)

“Roaring Lion was a champion, as is Kameko, but to replace them isn’t easy – so we keep trying.

“To win my first Classic on Kameko was great – growing up as a child you watch all the Classics, and that was very special.

“Kameko heads to the Breeders’ Cup, and we took him to Kempton this morning and we went round left-handed so he could get used to that.”

Oisin Murphy makes it business as usual with gritty Berkshire Rocco success

Oisin Murphy earned some relief after a difficult 24 hours as St Leger runner-up Berkshire Rocco opened his account for the season in the Teentech Noel Murless Stakes at Ascot on Friday.

It was announced on Thursday that the reigning champion jockey had returned a positive result for metabolites of cocaine following a test carried out by France Galop at a meeting at Chantilly on July 19, where he finished second aboard The Lir Jet in the Group Two Prix Robert Papin.

Putting aside his off-track issues, the Classic-winning rider was seen at his strongest aboard the Andrew Balding-trained 1-2 favourite to deny Albafora by a head in the Listed prize over a mile and three-quarters.

Murphy said: “He ran fantastically at Royal Ascot when he was second to Santiago and he was second in the Leger on his last start. He is a really tough horse and I’m delighted he got his head in front.

“I would never question his attitude as he is really tough and tries very hard, but he has been on the go since the spring and he has danced every dance.

“He ran in the Derby trial (at Lingfield) and he has been really busy. He was possibly not up to his rating today, but he won and that’s what matters.”

Having been informed of his positive test result in August, Murphy, who subsequently organised a hair sample test, which the Professional Jockeys Association said produced a negative result, is now awaiting news on the analysis of his ‘B’ sample from France Galop.

Oisin Murphy at Ascot on Friday
Oisin Murphy at Ascot on Friday (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

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Murphy, who strongly denies any wrongdoing, said: “I’ve the best people around me and my agent is working tirelessly to try to find me winners and the jockeys’ championship means I’ve got plenty to focus on.

“Absolutely (got hope over the ‘B’ sample). Let’s take every day at a time and try to keep riding winners.”

As for Balding, he believes Murphy’s riding skills will not be affected whatever the outcome of the situation.

The trainer said: “It is a matter for France Galop, but all I can say is that I’ve known Oisin for a long time and he is a very hard-working, professional, talented jockey. I’m sure whatever comes of it, he will come out of it a high-class jockey and that won’t change.”

Though Berkshire Rocco was clear of his three rivals on ratings, Balding feels he did well to win given the testing conditions.

He said: “He has been the bridesmaid in a couple of big races this year. We were taking a bit of a chance, but we thought it would be nice to get his head in front and finish the year on a bit of a high. He has toughed it out, but he has been on the go a while.

“He probably wants better ground than that, so he has done well in the circumstances. He is a tough one, but I did think the filly was going to come and get him.”

Looking ahead to next season, Balding expects the son of Sir Percy to be seen to even better effect dropped back in trip.

He added: “I think he will be very effective over a strongly-run mile and a half. I don’t think he is an out-and-out stayer myself.

“He could possibly be a Hardwicke-type, but there are so many good options for horses like that. We will give him a nice, long break now and look forward to having a lot of fun next year with him.”

St Leger ninth Tyson Fury gave the form of the world’s oldest Classic a further boost when prevailing by a head in the Charlie Waller Trust Novice Stakes.

Kieran Shoemark steers Tyson Fury to glory
Kieran Shoemark steers Tyson Fury to glory (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Richard Spencer, trainer of the 4-1 shot, who is named after the WBC world heavyweight champion, said: “He is a big horse and he probably didn’t handle that ground so we will probably put him away now until next year.

“I thought he ran very well in the St Leger, but they didn’t go quick enough for him. His fractions in the Leger were very quick turning in.

“Next year he will be a stronger horse and we could see him running from a mile and a half down to a mile and a quarter.

“He is an exciting one.”

Raaeq will return to Ascot later this month for a shot at the Balmoral Handicap on Qipco British Champions Day after routing his rivals in the Racing Welfare Handicap.

Trainer Brian Meehan said of the 13-8 winner: “He has just kept improving. He is clearly very talented and is only going to get bigger and stronger.

“He is in the Balmoral, we will speak with connections and discuss it but that seems the most likely next step.”

He added: “I couldn’t be more proud of the horse today as he is really starting to show everything we thought of him.”

Rochester House (6-1) enhanced his value before going under the hammer at the Autumn Horses In Training Sale at Tattersalls with a tenacious success in the ABF The Soldiers’ Charity Gordon Carter Handicap.

Trainer Mark Johnston said: “He obviously stays very well. We took him out of the Cesarewitch as he is in the sales and the owner wanted something to show everybody he is still there rather than taking a pot-shot at the Cesarewitch.”

Oisin Murphy vows to prove innocence after testing positive for cocaine

Champion jockey Oisin Murphy has vowed to do “everything that I can” to prove his innocence after testing positive for metabolites of cocaine at a meeting in France earlier in the year.

Murphy was tested by France Galop at Chantilly on July 19, where he partnered The Lir Jet to finish second in the Group Two Prix Robert Papin.

The rider was informed in August of his positive result and subsequently organised a hair sample test, which returned a negative result, according to the Professional Jockeys Association.

A statement issued on his behalf by the PJA said: “On July 19, 2020 Oisin Murphy was selected for urine testing at Chantilly racecourse. On August 19 he was informed by France Galop that his ‘A’ sample had returned positive for metabolites of cocaine.

Oisin Murphy steered Kameko to glory in the 2000 Guineas earlier this season
Oisin Murphy steered Kameko to glory in the 2000 Guineas earlier this season (Nigel French/PA)

“On the same day, Oisin organised for an independent laboratory to undertake hair sampling to prove his innocence. The hair sample was taken on August 22, with the collection process filmed by the laboratory for authenticity.

“The laboratory analysed multiple 0.3cm segments of Oisin’s hair and on August 26 the results of the hair test returned completely negative for metabolites of cocaine, which was entirely expected as Oisin has never taken cocaine.

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“These results have been shared with France Galop and he awaits the results of France Galop’s analysis of his ‘B’ sample.”

Murphy maintains his innocence, adding: “I have never taken cocaine in my life and I will do everything that I can to prove that I have not taken cocaine.

“I want to thank those who are supporting me and in the meantime I want to keep riding winners and focus on my career.”

Murphy later admitted his relief the case was now public knowledge, although he would have preferred to have waited until the results of both tests were returned before commenting.

He told Racing TV: “I had to release a statement today as the story had got round, but it is a weight off my shoulders. I’d been riding to the best of my ability and had a great week last week, but something needed to be said today – and I’m pleased it’s out there.

“People will examine every ride now, and if I give one a bad ride, they’ll probably say it’s because of this, but I have a brilliant support team and I am innocent. I think those closest to me believe in my innocence, so I’ve been able to push it out of my head.

“I’ve got to trust in France Galop and try to carry on as normal. A lot of important things are going on in the world at the moment, and this is crucial in my career, but it’s out of my control.

“Of course (there was a sense of disbelief). I don’t come into contact with drugs, I didn’t ever expect to hear from France Galop, BHA or wherever else I ride around the world. I don’t even take pain killers – I take an inhaler, and that’s about it.

“I don’t know the next steps. I’ll have to hear back from France Galop, which could take a few weeks. In an ideal world the headlines wouldn’t have come out today – we could have waited until we had a clearer picture – but now we have to wait on the ‘B’ sample.”

Oisin Murphy celebrated Group One glory with Alcohol Free at Newmarket last weekend
Oisin Murphy celebrated Group One glory with Alcohol Free at Newmarket last weekend (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Murphy, who is retained rider to Qatar Racing, enjoyed a landmark first Classic victory aboard Kameko in the 2000 Guineas back in June and last week partnered Alcohol Free to Group One glory in the Cheveley Park Stakes.

He is also leading the way in the Flat jockeys’ championship with 111 winners to his credit at the start of racing on Thursday, 13 ahead of William Buick in second place.

The British Horseracing Authority has been informed of the matter, and a spokesperson said: “We have been made aware that there is an ongoing anti-doping matter in France in relation to Oisin Murphy, which is currently the subject of further analytical investigation.

“We will continue to liaise with the Professional Jockeys Association and France Galop, and assess any new information as it becomes available.”