Olly Murphy provides the inside track on a number of his leading lights ahead of the 2022-23 jumps season.
By Nick Seddon
Olly Murphy has admitted he is prioritising winning more Grade One races as he looks to build on a “whirlwind” start to his career and heads into his fifth full season as a racehorse trainer.
The Warren Chase handler has made a huge impression since bursting onto the scene in the summer of 2017, having spent the previous four years under the tutelage of top Irish trainer Gordon Elliott.
And it did not take him long to hit the ground running, tasting Graded success just five months into his new venture with Hunters Call and sealing a first top level victory of his career when winning the 2020 Scilly Isles Novices' Chase at Sandown Park with Itchy Feet.
Now armed with a young and talented team, Murphy is hoping to build on his five year milestone by winning more big races this term. Speaking to The Jockey Club, he said: “It’s been a whirlwind five years. The string keeps getting bigger and hopefully there’s more quality in the place than when I started out.
“Like everyone you’re always still just looking for that next good horse, but I’ve got a lovely bunch of young horses for the season and I’m just hoping there’s a few nice ones amongst them.
“I suppose I’d want to become a multiple Grade One-winning trainer now and it’s something that is more important than training massive numbers. Every trainer wants a team full of quality, of course, but we’re looking for those good horses for Saturday afternoons and the big festivals and pushing up that trainers’ championship table.
“I don’t have a particular race I aspire to win, though I have always loved the Champion Hurdle. Becoming a Cheltenham Festival-winning trainer is something that I would like to happen sooner rather than later, but you have to wait for those days. We’ve had plenty of horses run well there and it’s hard to see everything come together.
“I’ve not really had a large team for Cheltenham yet, so when you’re going with between three and five runners and you’re taking on the Irish, it’s really hard. It’s the Olympics of horseracing and I’m looking forward to getting a win there sooner rather than later.”
Still only 31, Murphy is under no illusions that he is still a relative youngster in training terms and he explained that he has learned as much from failure as he has success.
He continued: “I still make a lot of mistakes and there are things that I’m going to do differently this year compared to last year.
“I think running horses around the right track is so important. It’s all about finding the right race for your horse around the right track and sometimes I’ve perhaps been guilty of trying to find a worse race but around a worse track for that particular horse. You’re always learning and I’m very self-critical. I think that’s how you get better.
“We’ve got some nice bumper horses from last year who are going novice hurdling this time and some horses who were decent hurdlers last year going chasing, so it’s exciting. It’s an exciting time of year - no dreams have been shattered yet as we haven’t run anything yet! We worked a heap of horses again this morning and we’re looking forward to getting going, pending the weather.”
Murphy has a nice mixture of established stars, and emerging talent, in his team of around 130 horses in training, and has provided the inside track on soe of his leading lights below.
“He had another really good season last year and he’s had a wind operation after the Aintree Hurdle, which was a very rare bad run. He’s going to follow a very similar path this time and we’ll probably start him off at Aintree and then go to Cheltenham, then Lingfield and Fontwell after that.
“He’s in good form and if he can win one of those races he’s going to get us some very good prize money again.”
“He’s a nice horse and was second in a bumper at Huntingdon. He jumps really well and has got a bit of class about him. We’ll start him off in a maiden hurdle and hopefully he’ll progress through the ranks. He’s a horse we do like.”
“Copperless was very impressive when winning the (2021) Swinton Hurdle at Haydock and unfortunately he hasn’t run since. We were actually discussing him this morning and I’d say the race that Ascot at Christmas (Betfair Exchange Trophy) is going to be his aim for this half of the season, but I’d love to get a prep race into him before that.
“I don’t know whether to give him a run in something like a Fighting Fifth and just let him follow them around and try and pick up some prize money just to knock the edge off him before we go to Ascot, but we’re still working out the plan.
“He’s a very good horse and I’m just hoping that 18 months off isn’t going to hinder his progress. But I definitely think that there are opportunities in that two mile division, there’s some good prize money to be had.”
“She did well last year and wasn’t herself when she got beat at Perth in April. She wants very heavy ground and is handicapped to win races so we’re looking forward to her.
"She probably won’t jump a fence this term - she’s a big strong girl but she just might not have the technique to jump a fence at the moment and I think we have unfinished business over hurdles.”
“He was disappointing at Ascot but he ran his race going to the start, he was very keen that day. We’ll revert back to dropping him in and taking our time.”
“I probably left his season behind with him at Sandown. He had a couple of very hard races there so I’ll just be very mindful of where I run him this year early on.
"He’s still handicapped to win a nice race and went off favourite for the Red Rum Handicap Chase on his last start at Aintree when disappointing. He’s had a wind operation since and hopefully we can pick up a nice handicap somewhere.”
“He’s in good form and is coming back off an injury. He had a small fracture to his pelvis so he’s a little way behind the others. We’ll start him off in a two and a half mile handicap hurdle somewhere.
"He doesn’t have a lot of experience but he’s a horse we’ve all loved from day one. He’s very unexposed and he has a nice handicap mark, so if he can fulfil what he shows us at home we’ve got a fantastic prospect.”
“He’s in good form for his age (12) and I’m not sure where I’m going to run him just yet, but he qualifies for those veterans’ hurdle races this year. Judged by a lot of his runs last year he looks like he’s got plenty of life left in him yet and hopefully he can win a handicap, but he owes us nothing. He was one of the first horses I had and gave me my first big winner, so he’s a real star of the yard."
“We’re going to do things a little bit differently with him this term. I’ve given him a wind operation and he’s a very good horse on his day.
“He’s probably a month behind everyone else because of that so I’m not sure where I’ll start him. It definitely won’t be the Old Roan Chase at Aintree and we’ll look to step him up in trip, we could perhaps start him in the intermediate chase we ran in at Haydock last year on Betfair Chase Day.
“If we win a race with him this year he is going to be collecting very good prize money, he’s that kind of horse. He’s just that bit bigger and stronger this year, so I’m hopeful that he can make up into a three mile chaser this time and that valuable race he ran in at Lingfield last season (Fleur De Lys Chase) is a nice race to aim at.”
“He jumped well this morning over fences and he’s a horse that I’m looking forward to this season. He just lost his confidence last season but he’s been jumping his fences really well and he could turn into a nice staying handicap chaser. He’ll go novice chasing. He’s a very likeable type and looks an out and out chaser.”
“He’s going to go novice chasing and he handles soft ground very well. We probably left our season at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day. He ran very flat that day and just wasn’t the same horse after but we’re looking forward to having a nice campaign with him.
"He’s a horse who probably wants around a month to six weeks between his races and we kind of backed his runs up quite quickly in the first part of last season and paid the price really.”
“He’s going to have to win a good handicap to get in, but the Grand National is a long term goal for him. He looks more than capable of winning a good race and I’m looking forward to getting him started.
"He’s had a wind operation as well. He’ll be aimed at all of those good staying handicap chases and if he can win one he’ll land some really nice prize money.”
“He’s been a fantastic servant for us and if he can win another nice race for us this term it will have been a pleasing season for him. He’s going to go to Wetherby for the West Yorkshire Hurdle and then he’ll probably go back to Newbury for the Long Distance Hurdle and defend his crown there.
"He’s in good form and is another horse who’s undergone a little wind operation so I’m looking forward to him this year.”
“He’ll go chasing this time but he might just have a run over hurdles beforehand, I need to speak to Iain Turner (Max McNeill’s Racing Manager) about that. He’s in very good form and had a great year last year, so he’s a horse that I’m very much looking forward to.
“He’s a nice strong type and we schooled him over fences last year, we haven’t done so far this time because we were actually going to have a look at Chepstow. I’m not sure what the short term plan is for him, but the long term plan is going over fences. Max (McNeill) has got some lovely horses spread over England and Ireland and I’m very lucky to train some nice horses for him and the family.”
“I think stepping up in trip is going to be a big positive for him and he’ll go up to two and a half miles sooner rather than later. We might just start him off over two miles just to knock the edge off him as he’s quite a free-going horse but he relaxed well at the back end of last year and he’s another we’re looking forward to.”Add an unlimited number of horses into your Racing TV Tracker and never miss a winner again! Click here for more details.
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