You are currently viewing Oisin Murphy is set to jump into a whole new ball game, with the jockey’s switch from Flat racing to hurdles showing an incredible talent

Oisin Murphy is set to jump into a whole new ball game, with the jockey’s switch from Flat racing to hurdles showing an incredible talent

  • Post category:UK Racing News
  • Reading time:7 mins read


Oisin Murphy is the three-time Champion Flat Jockey who has won Group One races in eight different countries.

All that speed and glamour will be a world away tomorrow, though, when Murphy has his first ride over hurdles at Wincanton. It has long been the 27-year-old’s ambition to test himself in the winter game, so it seems fitting the horse he will partner in a three-mile novice hurdle is called Let’s Do This.

Many will assume that no great adjustments will be needed, that all racing is basically the same but nothing could be further from the truth: Murphy, to make an analogy, is effectively the cyclist in the Tour De France who is now hurtling through a forest on a mountain bike.

‘This isn’t a gimmick,’ Cian Collins, the young Irish trainer who will give Murphy the leg up on Let’s Do This, tells Mail Sport. ‘You have to be unbelievably talented to be able to switch from the flat to riding over jumps; it’s two completely different disciplines in what has always been a tough sport.’

Here, Mail Sport look at how this all came about and what adjustments Murphy will have to make as he switches codes in the West Country.

Oisin Murphy is the three-time Champion Flat Jockey who has won Group One races in eight different countries, but he is set for his first race over hurdles at Wincanton on Thursday

BACKGROUND

Horses have been Murphy’s life from childhood. His uncle is Jim Culloty, who rode Best Mate to win three Cheltenham Gold Cups (2002-2004) and also landed that race as a trainer with Lord Windermere in 2014. For good measure, Culloty won the 2002 Grand National on Bindaree.

‘I’ve known Oisin since we were show-jumping together as kids and we are both from Kerry,’ Collins says. ‘We all know he is a little bit mad but I’m not surprised that he has taken this on – he loves a challenge and always has done.’

Murphy had to serve a 14-month ban for breaking Covid rules and alcohol breaches in 2022; during his suspension, he spent time showjumping and thought there might have been a chance he could have ridden in their year’s Champion Bumper at the Cheltenham Festival.

At the start of 2023, he applied to the British Horseracing Authority to gain a jump licence and he’s been waiting for the right moment. Collins wanted to give him his debut over obstacles at Leicester last Sunday but the weather intervened.

DIFFERENCES/RISKS

Flat jockeys spend the year constantly battling with the scales. Murphy’s riding weight through the summer is 8st 7lbs but at Wincanton, Let’s Do This will have 12st on his back – it means his saddlecloth will be filled with led to make up the shortfall.

In terms of his kit, he will wear the same body protector as he does when riding on the flat: produced by a company called Racesafe, it is a garment that weighs between 650-700 grams and has been designed to be thin, soft and flexible. The main area it shields is a riders ribs.

There is a rough ratio of National Hunt jockeys falling or unseating once every 14 races and Murphy’s boss Sheikh Fahad Al-Thani of Qatar Racing will be watching with bated breath at 2.05 but Collins, who will travel over from Ireland tomorrow morning, is confident in the jumping of Let’s Do This.

Murphy will wear the same body protector as he does when riding on the flat, but won't have to constantly battle with the scales

Murphy will wear the same body protector as he does when riding on the flat, but won’t have to constantly battle with the scales

RIDING FEES/PRIZE MONEY

Murphy has enjoyed a lucrative career, winning 28 Group One races, so whatever happens today won’t make a significant impact on his bank balance. There are differences, though, in remuneration – flat jockeys receive £157.90 for each ride, over jumps it is £214.63.

Jump jockeys also receive a bigger percentage of win and placed prized money compared to their counterparts. Roughly they will get 11.03 per cent of prize fund if they win (compared to 8.5 per cent) and 3.44 per cent if they place.

To give that a little more perspective, should Let’s Do This win Wincanton’s 2.05, he will pocket £4,225. When Murphy partnered Mawj to win the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket in May, the cheque for first place was £283,550.

He has been well-remunerated in his career but as a jump jockey, he will receive a bigger percentage of prize money

He has been well-remunerated in his career but as a jump jockey, he will receive a bigger percentage of prize money

CHANCE OF SUCCESS

Murphy has made it clear that he simply doesn’t want to embarrass himself against honest pros such as Jonjo O’Neill Jr, Richard Patrick, Tom Bellamy and James Best but he has a habit of making big impacts – he won on his first ride back from suspension at Chelmsford in February, for instance.

‘Hopefully this horse will suit Oisin,’ says Collins, whose stables are based in County Meath. ‘He’s been in Wincanton since Tuesday and I think he has a very good chance. Let’s put it this way, we are not coming over for the fun of it! We’ll certainly give Oisin more chances in the future.’



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