Wednesday, 1 April 2020

Olly Murphy: Jack of all trades


Formerly assistant trainer to Gordon Elliott, with whom he spent four years, Olly Murphy was still only 25 years old when he took out a combined training licence, in his own right, in 2017. Nevertheless, within a week of taking up the reins at Warren Chase Stables in Wilmcote, near Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, he had saddled two runners, and two winners. Dove Mountain, a six-year-old formerly trained by his mother, Anabel Murphy (née King), opened his account by winning a mile-and-a-quarter handicap at Brighton in July 4 and Gold Class, an eight-year-old and hitherto long-standing maiden over hurdles, doubled his tally by winning a lady amateur riders’ handicap at Market Rasen, under Bryony Frost, on July 9.

Obviously, it was always going to be difficult to maintain the flying start to his training career. Nevertheless, at the end of the 2017 Flat season, Murphy had saddled three winners from 23 runners, at a strike rate of 13% and, at the end of the 2017/18 National Hunt season, 47 winners from 250 runners, at a strike rate of 19%. Indeed, the latter season notably included victory Hunters Call in the Grade Three Racing Welfare Handicap Hurdle at Ascot in December, 2017. The seven-year-old, ridden by Jack Kennedy, collected £85,425, which is the biggest single prize Murphy has won to date.

In subsequent seasons, Murphy has continued to saddle a limited number of runners on the Flat, predominantly on synthetic, or all-weather, surfaces, but his main focus has been on the National Hunt sphere. All told, in just over two years, Murphy has saddled a total of 158 winners under National Hunt Rules and amassed £1.29 million in win and place prize money. Other highlights of his fledgling training career, so far, have included winning the Listed Matchbook Time To Move Over Novices’ Hurdle at Kempton with Itchy Feet in October, 2018 and the Core Spreads Sussex Champion Hurdle at Plumpton with Fielsole in April, 2019. In between times, he also saddled Thomas Darby and Itchy Feet to finish second and third in the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival; the former finished lame and the latter broke blood vessels but, collectively, the pair won £37,762.50 for their efforts.