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Horse Racing

HKIR: Oisin Murphy reflects on a memorable 2019, his goals for next season and looks ahead to Sundays Sha Tin card

WHAT a year it has been for Oisin Murphy.

Champion Jockey, big race glory at home and abroad, and now a recognisable name across the globe.

Oisin Murphy and Deirdre celebrate after victory in the Nassau Stakes

Long gone are the days of riding out for uncle Jim Culloty and Tommy Stack in Ireland.

Murphy is now a man in demand and looking to cap off a season of all seasons with a winner at tomorrows huge Sha Tin HKIR meeting.

He will ride his beloved Deirdre in the Hong Kong Vase and then Japanese star Persian Knight in the Mile.

Both are already Group 1 winners and it shows the impact Murphy has made in this part of the world that he is trusted with the ride on two of their best.

Murphy said: Every Group 1 is important but Deirdre is obviously a special horse to me for a few reasons.

Shes very talented and a mile-and-a-half around Sha Tin should suit her perfectly.

Persian Knight ran very well on his last start when I rode him in the Japanese Mile Championship.

Im pleased with his draw as hes next to Beauty Generation and to be honest I’m equally excited about riding him as I am Deirdre, which says quite a bit.

Deirdre was sensational in the Nassau under an ecstatic Oisin Murphy

Murphy rode in the International Jockeys Championship at Happy Valley earlier in the week.

Other stars on the card included Frankie Dettori, Joao Moreira, Ryan Moore and Zac Purton.

His name now sits alongside those on a regular basis and the Irishman is clearly comfortable in the big time.

He added: I had a three month stint here in 2016/17 and rode a few winners at Happy Valley.

Theres a lot of noise at the tracks with a brilliant atmosphere and as its so different its nice to ride at places as its a change of scenery and I enjoy riding in Hong Kong.

But I ride with the best jockeys in the world week in, week out so I wouldnt say its any different coming up against specific riders.

The competition is great across the board but I wouldnt say the feeling is much different from any big Saturday or Sunday, riding back in Britain.

Murphy started 2019 with a bang and became Champion Jockey at a canter as Danny Tudhope and Silvestre De Sousa relented.

But the miles in the car and the long days dont come easy for such a sustained period and Murphy says he may take things slightly easier next season.

He continued: I tried really, really hard to become Champion Jockey and I was very lucky to receive so much support throughout.

But I think I rode for more trainers than anyone else which summed up the season I had.

Im going to have to weigh up what I do next season. I ride 12 months of the year and dont take any time off.

In the British season I had 1120 rides, but people forget I did plenty of double meetings and was in France and Germany riding a lot too.

Its certainly something I need to give some thought to still.

The likes of Deirdre, Telecaster and Veracious were all part of a memorable season, with ten Group race wins to his name across the world.

Murphy said: Its hard to pick out an individual moment from the year as there were so many highs, but those big races stand out and Kameko winning the Group 1 Vertem Futurity at Newcastle was special.

It was my first domestic Group 1 for Andrew Balding and hes by the same sire as Roaring Lion and everyone associated with that horse has been very good to me.

Hes a lovely horse to look forward to next season whatever my goals are.

With Murphys plans still to be finalised for next season, perhaps a stint riding abroad could be on the cards in the near future?

The bright lights and glitz and glamour of the international racing scene, as well as some of the best horses in the world, have caught Murphys eye.

He said: I love riding abroad but the language barrier out in the likes of Hong Kong and especially Japan is the biggest difference and challenge.

Most people in Japan only have one or two words of English. Im trying to pick up what I can when I spend time over in this part of the world.

“Luckily I have a great agent and a brilliant translator I can use over here, but it means riding out here can be of great expense sometimes.

“But the best horses in the world from a mile to a mile-and-a-half are out here and you cant help but love being out here, even just for the horses themselves.”

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