Oisin Murphy’s in demand: returning rider gets Australian and Japanese call-ups

The jockey’s All-Star Mile ride in Melbourne will set him into Dubai where he will partner Japanese contenders T O Keynes and Perriere.

Oisin Murphy is hot property on the international stage. (Photo by Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

David Morgan

Chief Journalist


It’s a bleak late afternoon at Newcastle races and Oisin Murphy looks like he’s feeling the cut of the damp chill. He has just ridden a winner, Russian Virtue, for dual-code County Durham trainer Rebecca Menzies in the ten-furlong Class 6 handicap, £3,386 to the winner; the latest of the intermittent snow flurries has passed but as the Irishman gives a post-race interview to camera, his brow is furrowed and his cheeks drawn taut on a day when smile muscles are numbed by the cold air.   

Another week though and he will be far from the Newcastle Tapeta track and the biting northeasterly wind: he will again be on the international Group 1 stage. An unexpected ride on Laws Of Indices in the All-Star Mile beckons, a high-profile Melbourne gig for gun Sydney trainer Annabel Neasham; the kind of assignment Murphy thrives on and for which he was made.

“Annabel contacted me on Monday, she just sent me a text asking if I’d be interested,” he tells Asian Racing Report. “When I was down there for the Melbourne Cup last year, I spent some time with her and so it was really nice to get that text, it was really out of the blue. Those rides don’t come along all the time and it’s a great time of year, just before Dubai.

“My visa hasn’t come through yet but we’ve done all the paperwork so hopefully that’ll be fine. I’ll leave next Thursday morning, so I’ll land Friday night and then I’ll ride there at Moonee Valley on Saturday.”



Less than a month after returning from a year-long suspension, Britain’s three-time champion jockey is already back in demand. After Laws Of Indices, he flies on to Dubai where he can look forward to not only Quickthorn in the G2 Dubai Gold Cup and his recent Qatari G3 winner Flaming Rib in the G1 Al Quoz Sprint, but also the rides on two of Japan’s powerful team of horses, T O Keynes in the G1 Dubai World Cup and Perriere in the G2 UAE Derby.

“I didn’t ride any Japanese horses in Saudi recently so this will be my first opportunity again for them,” he says. “T O Keynes was the champion dirt horse in 2021; Perriere is a Listed winner last time, NAR Group 1-placed; they are horses lots of people would want to ride and it’s nice to be called up.

“The Japanese are really competitive on the world stage and everyone wants to ride them, so to get back on their horses is important.”

Murphy is aware that his absence through the past two winters has in part enabled other international jockeys to step into the JRA sphere and thrive, and that he must put in the work again and succeed if he is to remain one of the go-to overseas riders.

“Those boys had an unbelievable time in Japan this winter,” he says. “(Bauyrzhan) Murzabayev had a Group 1, Group 2 and Group 3 winner, David (Egan) had a four-timer one weekend; they’re two very good riders and of course Damian Lane has had great success over the last two years.”

Oisin Murphy caught up with Asian Racing Report's David Morgan at Newcastle. (Photo by Asian Racing Report)

Dirt star T O Keynes wins the G3 Heian Stakes. (Photo by JRA)

Laws Of Indices gallops at Moonee Valley ahead of the G1 Cox Plate in October. (Photo by Pat Scala/Getty Images)

Since his suspension ended – for breaking Covid rules, ‘misleading BHA officials,’ and having alcohol in his system on race days above the accepted threshold – Murphy has ridden 13 winners at a 22 percent strike rate. But he knows there is plenty of work still to do to get to the level he wants to be at after such a long time away.

“Being out for a while, my name isn’t attached to any big-name horses really, so I need to build up momentum in order to get rides like those in the season,” he says.

“I was always going to be riding these sorts of meetings like Newcastle anyway because I need the match practice and I don’t mind travelling up and down the country, I enjoy it. I think the sharpest I ever was was at Royal Ascot in 2021: I’m trying to get back to that sort of level but it won’t happen straight away.

“I never stopped riding out, I was riding for Andrew (Balding) and Ed Walker and people all the way through my suspension. But I knew that to miss a year, that’s a long time in flat racing; most of the horses I would have ridden before, the better ones, they’ve retired.”

And that is why picking up a high-profile spare on the international stage, like Laws Of Indices, is a big boost.

”It’s a great opportunity to get, he has a first three chance,” Murphy says. “His run the last day was very good, he hit the line. I don’t know all the runners in the race, there’s going to be 15 and Moonee Valley is a sharp track, so I hope we have a nice draw, but the horse looks uncomplicated.”

Complications may have stalled his own career for a season, but Murphy’s talent means there will always be demand for his services, whether that’s for a Class 6 at Newcastle or an All-Star booking in Melbourne.   




    Subscribe now & get exclusive weekly content from Asian Racing Report direct to your inbox

      Expert ratings, tips & analysis for Hong Kong racing