Oisin Murphy’s face still bears physical evidence of the injuries he suffered in a fall at Salisbury a fortnight ago, and it was clear as he received the trophy for winning the Flat jockeys’ championship here on Saturday that the mental pressures of his nip-and-tuck battle with William Buick have also left a mark.
Murphy declined a chance to comment further on a report on Friday evening that he had been involved in a “fracas” in a Newmarket pub last week, a few hours before testing over the riding limit before the first day of the town’s Future Champions meeting.
Instead, it was left to David Redvers, racing and bloodstock adviser to Sheikh Fahad al-Thani, Murphy’s main retainer, to talk about possible changes to the rider’s lifestyle before he starts another defence of his title in 2022.
“Oisin’s really felt it this time, no question about it,” Redvers told Racing TV earlier on Saturday. “It’s been a really high-pressure, tense end to the season.
“Oisin’s a young man, we’ve known him since he was 17, since he was a boy really, and he’s still growing and developing as a man. Clearly, things have happened in the recent time that he has regrets about and will work hard to put right. I have no doubt that when the pressure of Champions Day is out of the way and he can breathe and regroup, that there will be changes made to his lifestyle and he’s going to look very hard at that.”
Murphy, who drew a blank on Champions Day but finished two winners clear of Buick, focused instead on the support of his family, Sheikh Fahad and trainers including Andrew Balding, who has supplied 35 of his winners in 2021.
“I have the best people around me,” Murphy said. “My mother has lived with me for most of this year and she’s been a great asset, and Andrew Balding. I was apprenticed to him and along with Sheikh Fahad, [he] has made all the difference really.
“I think over the last fortnight at least, you could see every winner that William was clawing back, I was doing my best to bounce back but the opportunities weren’t there and unfortunately that’s the way it is sometimes. [But] I managed to eke out enough and that’s down to my agent as well.”
1.00 Impulsive One
2.05 Cobblers Dream
2.40 Mercian Prince (nb)
3.15 Silver Streak
3.50 Hawk’s Well (nap)
1.45 Minella Trump
4.05 Bari Breeze
4.40 Gordon’s Jet
5.15 A Different Kind
Murphy will be acutely aware of the possible embarrassment to Sheikh Fahad, who retains him as No 1 rider, as a result of the timing and nature of his latest lapse of judgment. The Sheikh is chief executive of Qipco, a Qatari sovereign wealth fund which is the main sponsor of Saturday’s Champions Day card at Ascot.
He remains fiercely loyal to his jockey but Murphy will also be well aware that another positive breath test before June 2022, which would be his third in three years, would trigger an automatic ban of at least 40 days.