Racing UK

Murphy lays down law at Newmarket with help of powerful alliances

Tuesday 18 April 2017

By Andy Stephens at Newmarket

The headline acts on the first day of the Craven meeting had a familiar look. Godolphin won three of the first four races before John Gosden and Frankie Dettori combined to land the feature, the Bet365 Feilden Stakes, with Khalidi.

This was also a significant day for Oisin Murphy, who rode a double aboard the Andrew Balding-trained Beat The Bank (7-1) in the 7f conditions race and Next Stage (4-1), who won the mile handicap for Saeed Bin Suroor and provided Godolphin with the last of their three winners.

At just 21, Murphy finds himself juggling some of the biggest and most powerful owners in the sport.

In addition to being No 1 jockey for Sheikh Fahad’s Qatar Racing operation, he is in increasing demand with Bin Suroor as the trainer continues to overlook James Doyle. He also remains a pivotal part of Balding’s operation at Kingsclere.

Speaking to after he had completed his 39-1 double, it is clear that whatever future glories lie in store for the champion apprentice of 2015 he will always be grateful for the guidance and help he received in his formative years at Kingsclere.

His narrow victory aboard Beat The Bank, for Balding, gave him a great deal of satisfaction and he has made no secret of his admiration for the stable’s Poet’s Vanity, who returns in a hot renewal of the Lanwades Stud Nell Gwyn on Wednesday.

“We are a big yard now and we had a bad week last week,” Murphy said, with the emphasis on the word bad. “I had lots of winners for other people but didn’t ride one for Andrew. He’s made me part of the team [at Kingsclere] since I was an apprentice and it’s important I get results [for him] on days like this.

“I know this wasn’t a very big race but it’s the Craven meeting and people are talking about it, and it’s nice to reward him.”

Expect to hear more, too, from the owner of Beat The Bank, who is Leicester City football club chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha.

With his team’s crucial Champions League game against Atletico Madrid taking place in the evening, Srivaddhanaprabha was absent from a chilly and windy afternoon on the Rowley Mile but he has the potential to emerge as a leading player in the sport.

“The owner is a very ambitious man,” Murphy confirmed. “Hopefully Leicester City will do well tonight; and it’s nice to get some results for him.”

Balding suggested the Jersey Stakes at Royal Ascot would be a natural goal for Beat The Bank.

"The brief from the owner was to try and have runners for Royal Ascot and that is the most likely target," he said. "There's a Listed race back here in May [the King Charles] and we might have a look at that before.”

Balding said that Beat The Bank, who had won on his debut at Dundalk when trained by Darren Bunyan, had impressed in a couple of pieces of work but Murphy suggested they could not have been strong “push the button” workouts because, usually, either he or David Probert would be in the saddle for exercise like that.

“There’s probably a fair bit left in the tank,” Murphy said. “He was a bit green, lugged left, but I didn’t hit him. You would expect him to improve mentally more than anything else.

“The boss is very good at keeping a horse’s mind sound and today you could see the benefit. He raced much better for us today compared with his first race in Ireland, and he put it to bed well.”

Murphy struck again aboard Next Stage little more than half an hour later.

Returning from an absence of ten months, Next Stage stuck on gamely and Bin Suroor suggested he could form part of his team at Royal Ascot, though a specific target has yet to be decided.

Murphy said: “He obviously has a lot of ability. His Lingfield maiden win was very impressive to the eye and it’s worked out OK. He got beaten by Defrocked, who’s a Group winner in Hong Kong now, but he’d gone up 8lb without winning.

“They’ve done very good job to get him here racefit, sound and ready for action. He was a dream to ride and today was hopefully a stepping stone.”

Murphy was a spectator for the Feilden, in which the diminutive Khalidi mastered form pick Salouen.

It is unlikely Gosden has many smaller three-year-olds in his yard and he reckons the diminutive son of High Chaparral could be ideal for the Chester Vase but concedes he is not in the same league as his last Feilden winner, Golden Horn, who went on to win the Derby, Coral-Eclipse and Arc.

Charlie Appleby won the first two races on the card with debutants, Night Circus and Sound And Silence, and told that he finds it very hard to split his representatives in the Earl Of Sefton Stakes at Newmarket on Wednesday - Folkswood and Viren’s Army - who have been in good form in Dubai this year.

“William [Buick] had a hard decision to make,” Appleby said. “He’s gone for Folkswood, probably because he ticks a couple more boxes but it was a tough decision for him to make.”


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