FLAT racing’s boy wonder will be hoping to Kick start his champion jockey challenge in the 2000 Guineas this afternoon.
Baby-faced Oisin Murphy, 23, has landed the ride on lively outsider Kick On in the first Classic of the season.
The bookies make Murphy favourite for the Flat jockeys’ title, which gets underway today, and a first-ever Classic would be the perfect start for the Irishman.
The colt races in the familiar maroon and gold colours of Murphy’s employer Qatar Racing and the jockey has ridden him to two wins over today’s tricky Rowley Mile course.
His last success came in the Feilden Stakes over a mile and a furlong at the Craven meeting last month.
Murphy said: “Kick On beat a field of experienced horses in the Feilden. I know that was only a Listed race but it was as good a Listed event as you’ll find.
“He’s come out of the race really well and John Gosden is very happy with him. He’s a horse who likes to go forward and he’s very tough under pressure. He’s coming back a furlong in distance from that race but he’s got plenty of pace.
“To have been there and proved he handles the track is an advantage for sure. I promise you sometimes, as a rider you feel, them literally lose their balance underneath you – they can almost fall over.
“With others you wouldn’t know there was a dip in the track, it depends on the horse. Sometimes even good-moving horses don’t handle it.
“Last year Kick On won one of those Newmarket back-end maidens impressively and they tend to be competitive. I didn’t ride him in the Vertem Futurity Trophy as I was in Australia riding Benbatl in the Cox Plate.
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He ran fine in that Doncaster race and he’s done well over the winter.
“I haven’t looked at the betting as I’ve got my own opinion. I’ve ridden against all of them and I’ve ridden many of them as well.
“It’s an exciting race this year. Often we’re looking forward to one horse – this year there could be a number of stars. We just don’t know.”
Murphy first advertised his own star quality back in 2013 when his apprentice weight allowance was nothing short of a headstart for his horses.
Making the jump from top claimer to established professional is rarely easy but it’s one Murphy hasn’t had to break stride to achieve. Now he’s firmly in that bracket.
Trips to Dubai, Canada, France, Germany and home to his native Ireland have all yielded Group 1 wins in the last 18 months but it was in Britain he really hit the big time last year when lifting five top-level trophies — four of those on Roaring Lion.
He finished only fifth in last year’s 2000 Guineas but once the summer sun had warmed up into a scorcher, Roaring Lion shone brighter than any other three-year-old.He was just the rocket his rider – nephew of Best Mate’s jockey Jim Culloty — needed to blast up to join Flat racing’s top stars.
And Murphy makes no secret of his desire to scoop the title. He said: “I tried very hard last year, I just wasn’t good enough.
“Every jockey wants to be champion. Everyone is going for it but only a certain number of jockeys can ride that many winners.
“If there’s racing on and I’m not suspended I’ll be riding every day.”
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