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Final countdown to the return of racing

29 May 2020

Oisin Murphy

As you will all know by now Kameko had an away-day and worked at Kempton last Wednesday, he worked with two decent horses and we were very happy with him.

He seems in really good shape, we didn’t do any serious work – he went six furlongs and he galloped out 10 furlongs in total.

I think he’s got a great chance going to Newmarket on June 6, providing he stays happy and healthy.

As a general rule, it’s true that Andrew’s (Balding) horses would come forward from their first run of the season, but they’ve had plenty of time to get ready now and the gallops at Kingclere are extremely good.

They’ve all had plenty of training and, it has to be said, the yard on the whole is in very good shape.

Kameko wouldn’t have done loads on turf but he’s done a few pieces – I have no real reservations or worries going back onto turf, I know he was beaten at Newmarket last season but he’s a well-balanced horse who has done well over the winter.

I think he was probably at his peak last year in November and I think he’s pretty close to that again, the feeling he gave me last week would suggest he’s as good as he’s ever been anyway.

From the gallops

It’s been a busy week as I prepare to return to race-riding at Newcastle on Monday, riding out at various locations across the country.

I’ve been to Hughie Morrison’s, David Simcock’s, Saeed bin Suroor’s – I think everyone saw across social media that I’d been galloping on his exciting Classic prospect Military March.

Military March worked very nicely on the Watered Gallop in Newmarket, Saeed was very happy. The horse has done well physically, he’s a well-built son of New Approach and he’s massive now. He’s a beautiful looker and his work really impressed me.

He pricked his ears at the end which indicates he’s seriously fit and healthy and, if I can’t partner him in the 2000 Guineas, hopefully I’ll be able to ride him a little later in the year. I gather he’s now favourite for the Derby which honestly doesn’t surprise me greatly as he relaxes well which would be a big help at Epsom.

I’ve also been to see various smaller trainers too, who don’t have major strings, the likes of Denis Coakley, Jo Tuite and Ed Walker.

I worked English King for Ed on Tuesday morning earlier this week and he went really well.  He’s by Camelot and from a very good family. He looks like a lovely middle-distance, staying type of three-year-old.

Back into the swing of things

I’d like to take my hat off to the British Horseracing Authority as they’ve really versed us all well on the procedures and exactly what we need to adhere to in order to be permitted to ride.

I think everyone should be aware as jockeys, as well as staff who are going to be dealing with the horses on race-days, that we’re going to feel safe and confident racing can resume with no major issues.

One thing I would say is that it’s obviously going to be an odd time for riders. For this initial transitional phase at least, we’re going to face some very different conditions at the racecourse and I don’t really understand why there can’t be showers.

In Hong Kong and Japan the showers are still in operation and they’ve also been battling the coronavirus, they’ve found a way around it.

But it won’t last forever, I can only really focus on my preparation and I know I’m super-fit. I’ve been on the treadmill, the bike, you name it – I’ve done all the exercise I can! And I’ve been on the simulator too, pushing myself at least once a day so I feel great. I feel ready physically.

In terms of mental sharpness, everyone always has doubts and I’m no different but you must ride off instinct. I can’t really say where I am with that sort of feeling at the moment but hopefully it won’t take me long, I’ve been watching racing from Hong Kong, Japan, Australia and America so I’ve kept in the zone and tried to stay sharp that way too.

I’ve also been busy learning pedigrees, particularly of all the first-season sires, and I feel like I’m in a good place heading to Newcastle on Monday.

Day One at Newcastle

Newcastle is a very fair track. You must get the distance there as you’re rising the whole time in the straight but other than that it’s pretty uncomplicated.

As for the surface itself, we don’t need to give the game away to all the other jockeys but it’s officially standard to slow so I expect it could be riding a bit slow and take a fair bit of getting. I’ll be looking to time things perfectly but at the end of the day you can’t send-guess yourself.

Among my rides as things stand on day one at Newcastle is the well-bred newcomer Luck On Sunday who is a full-sister to Group One winner Alice Springs. She’s trained by John Quinn and owned by Phoenix Thoroughbreds – she cost two million euros and with that sort of pedigree and price tag she obviously has huge potential value as a broodmare. I’m sure she’ll be ready to do herself justice.

Alignak is another exciting ride in the mile and a half handicap, I rode him at Kempton to win last year and I was very happy with him. It’ll be interesting to see how he goes as I haven’t spoken to Ryan Moore, Ted Durcan or Sir Michael Stoute himself about the horse yet and where he fits in, but I’m sure I’ll speak before Monday and it’s a nice ride to pick up. He stays well and Newcastle might play to his strengths.

I’m riding Indian Sounds for Paul Midgley a little earlier on the card, Paul gives me rides every year and I’m looking forward to teaming up with him again as he’s such a good sprint trainer.