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Looking back on a Group 1 year in 2017

31 Dec 2017

Oisin Murphy New Year

Riding a Royal Ascot and a Group 1 winner have been my dreams since I first started riding and, having achieved both in 2017, this is a year that I will always look back on and savour. Here are my top five moments of the past 12 months.

1) Aclaim in the Prix de la Foret
Unsurprisingly this fella makes this list as it was a huge relief to finally ride my first Group 1 winner. It was a massive day for me with the race run immediately after the Arc de Triomphe and the atmosphere was unbelievable. I only had two spins on him and thankfully he delivered both times. He’s now a very exciting addition to the stallion ranks.

2) Lightning Spear in the Celebration Mile
To land back-to-back renewals of the Celebration Miles was a fantastic achievement for everyone involved with the horse at David Simcock’s yard. I knew I was on the best horse on both occasions but tactically it wasn’t simple. Thankfully he delivered and gained another deserved Group-race victory.

3) Blond Me in the EP Taylor Stakes
It was incredibly satisfying to back up my first Group 1 success with another so soon internationally in the EP Taylor Stakes at Woodbine – especially with this victory coming for Andrew Balding. Andrew was my master as an apprentice and he’s stuck by me, whilst Barbara Keller, the filly’s owner, has also been very good to me. It was great to be able to reward them both with a triumph at the highest level and everyone at Park House stables got a great kick out of it.

4) Bentbatl in the Hampton Court Stakes
Things didn’t really go according to plan for Benbatl in the Derby at Epsom, despite him running very well. Thankfully Saaed Bin Suroor kept the faith in me and he went on to give me my first Royal Ascot winner. I knew I was riding the best horse in the race and I had a plan in my head, which I managed to execute fully. This was an incredibly special moment – as everyone could probably see from my victory celebrations!

5) Beat The Bank in the Joel Stakes
The Joel Stakes often provides a future Group 1 winner and I have much faith in this horse. My plan was to follow the pace as Andrew Balding has always insisted but when the groups split I’d a choice to play safe and follow the rest of them or stick to what I knew. I trusted my instinct and he bolted up against a strong Group 2 field. Hopefully there are bigger days to come in 2018!