Oisin Murphy is the British Flat Champion Jockey for a third successive season having secured the title at Ascot after one of the closest title races in years.
his was a title race with drama, tension, and excitement in plentiful supply, all boiled down to the final day of the season as Murphy prevailed by two wins over the challenger, William Buick, bringing his tally of wins for the season to 153.
Murphy becomes the first Irish jockey since Richard Hughes (2012 to 2014) to win the coveted title three years in a row.
Murphy started the final week of the season nine wins ahead. This was cut to just one at Chelmsford on Thursday, and again at Haydock on Friday when Buick’s rich vein of form saw him ride 13 winners in 8 days to narrow the gap. Murphy was made fight for every inch of ground by Buick who deserves huge credit for his effort.
Murphy’s ratio of wins turned from a flow to a drip as the week progressed, yet he managed to maintain a slender lead with his five wins, including a double at Haydock on Friday, proving crucial ahead of Champions Day.
The pressure was starting to show though with a pensive expression noticeable on Murphy’s face before every race. Speaking to Racing TV on Thursday evening, Murphy said: “I don’t think – no matter what everyone says – it’s much fun. There is a lot of pressure…”
Murphy went into Champions Day at Ascot three ahead before Buick reduced the deficit to two again. Murphy failed to ride a winner on the day.
“It’s beyond my wildest dreams. Thank you very much to Sheikh Fahad, his brothers, and his whole family,” Oisin told Sky Sports Racing.
“Qatar Racing has been my job for the last couple of years but in order to win jockeys’ championships I need free rein to go where I please and where the best opportunities are. It’s fantastic to lift this trophy again, it’s a dream come through,” he said.
On his rival William Buick, Oisin said:
“William is one of the best riders in the world and it’s been very tough. He is a tremendous competitor with a fantastic job. Thanks to all my trainers and owners for putting me on winners. This is what it’s all about…I’m 26-years-old and still feel like a child, so I’ll have to keep going for a few more years…
“I’ve bought some show jumpers, it’s my passion. Hopefully I’ll get to ride them in my free time. Horses is my life and I’m never happier then when I’m on the back of a horse,” Oisin said.
Some questioned Murphy’s hunger for a third title as Buick’s hot streak melted like a soldering gun through Murphy’s lead. Press reports on Saturday that Murphy was allegedly involved in a pub fracas the evening before his failed breathalyser test at Newmarket on October 8, added to the pressure faced by Murphy ahead of the final day’s action.
Speaking to ITV Racing about the allegations, Murphy said:
“I think everyone knows that I’m human and I’m quite honest. But I need to do better, I don’t want any issues surrounding my career. Let’s just focus on trying to ride winners and, hopefully, other jockeys’ championship,” he said.
Murphy’s historic title elevates him to the pantheon of British flat racing greats. It’s a crowning achievement and a huge source of pride for his family; for Killarney, and for Churchtown. But most of all, it is a triumph for Murphy himself to relish. No one deserves it more.