Don't miss Oisin Murphy's latest Sporting Life column
Don't miss Oisin Murphy's latest Sporting Life column

Oisin Murphy champion jockey column | On Recovery mission in Derby trial

Oisin Murphy reflects on the last week including Alcohol Free’s 1000 Guineas run, before giving us the latest from Andrew Balding’s and looking ahead to his Saturday Lingfield rides.

The darling buds of May

Nebulosa can rise through the grades
Nebulosa can rise through the grades

May has started well. I had a couple of winners at Goodwood last Saturday which was good and have since had two more winners at Windsor and Lingfield, so we’re off and running.

NEBULOSA kind of got me out of trouble at Goodwood. We went slow and you’re turning most of the way, even in the straight you’re not running in a straight line.

It was seven furlongs and I think she’ll stay a mile. She’s not very big, but I really like her attitude and she did well to win. I’d be hopeful she can cope with the 5lb rise.

The ground was a touch fast at Goodwood for DAWNDIVA, but she managed to get the job done in what looked a competitive maiden.

Free can be a hit at Royal Ascot

Oisin Murphy on Alcohol Free
Oisin Murphy on Alcohol Free

I always planned to ride ALCOHOL FREE behind a few in the Qipco 1000 Guineas, just to get her to relax, but in doing so, when you take her back like that, she tends to get a little bit disorganised and then you say go.

Next time, in the Coronation Stakes, I think I’ll ride her a little bit differently – obviously after speaking to Andrew [Balding, trainer]! I don’t think you’ll be seeing me getting up in her mouth and restricting her like at Newbury and Newmarket.

She definitely stayed. In the last furlong she didn’t lose any ground on the leaders and a few of them dropped away.

The Coronation Stakes is round a bend and you’re rising uphill all the time, so it’s a very different test but one that I think could suit her. It would be nice to have a high-ish draw and to stay out, let her prick her ears and sit in the first two or three, riding her like I have done before.

Spirits high at team Balding

Youth Spirit (centre) burst through to win the Chester Vase
Youth Spirit (centre) bursts through to win the Chester Vase

It was good to see YOUTH SPIRIT win the Chester Vase for Andrew, his work at home was nice before I rode him in the Feilden Stakes at Newmarket.

He improved from that run, as most of the stable’s horses do and I felt he would stay when I got off him at Newmarket, suggesting that he should go up in trip.

The Cazoo Derby is a big step up, but he’ll go to Epsom now and he’s a very likeable horse, it’s nice to have him in the yard.

It gives the team confidence about the three-year-olds as a whole, but I must admit I looked through the work lists to see who he’s been working with and he hasn’t actually gone with any of the other three-year-old colts.

It’s hard to draw comparisons, but when you have one that’s winning at Group level it lifts the spirits of the yard and Andrew’s horses are in very good form.

Nate in Great form ahead of Chester Cup

King's Lynn - exciting sprinter
King's Lynn - looks an exciting sprinter

I’m suspended on Friday, so I’ll be riding out in the morning but in the afternoon I’ll be watching the Chester Cup on the television, a race I’ve won before with Montaly for Andrew.

The team have a chance this year, too, with NATE THE GREAT, an amazing horse.

He’s had plenty of racing but he’s in the form of his life, his work and everything has really stepped up at home. It’s astonishing really, he’s not very big, but he’s come on from when he was at Archie Watson’s, the change of scenery seems to have reinvigorated him.

It’s a competitive race and he’s a big price, but I’d give him a fair chance I think he’ll go very well.

Also watch out for the Queen’s runner, KING’S LYNN later on the card. He’s in very good form at home, I’d just be a bit worried if the ground is slow. He ran poorly at Ayr when we thought he’d win on slow ground.

The five furlong trip looks absolutely fine, it’s just if he can get his knees out of that ground.

Looking ahead to York

£3m on offer as racing returns to York
It's the Dante meeting next week

It’s a bit early to talk about specific rides at York’s Dante meeting next week but I love riding the Knavesmire and I can’t wait to get up there.

There is one who I’d hope to be on and that is Hughie Morrison’s HUDDLETON MAC in the seven-furlong handicap next Wednesday.

I won on him last year and I’d say his handicap mark of 88 is a fair one. He raced a little bit fresh in the Greenham at Newbury, but he’s come out of that race well and hopefully he can get his season back on track.

Saturday's Best Bets: Ascot and Lingfield

Saturday Lingfield rides

Recovery Run strikes under Oisin Murphy
Recovery Run bids to bounce back at Lingfield


RECOVERY RUN goes in the Lingfield Derby Trial and we’re hoping for better than his below-par effort at Sandown – that was too bad to be true. The faster ground might’ve been an excuse, he was always out of his comfort zone. This is a different test being a longer trip and slower ground and if he gets into a good rhythm he’ll run a good race.


In the Oaks Trial I’m on OCEAN ROAD for Qatar Racing and she’s done lots of work on the grass. She’s fit and well, I’ve sat on her a few times at home. She’s actually hard to gauge at home as she gets to the lead horse and pricks her ears, but I’m sure we’ll learn plenty on the track at Lingfield.


BOUNCE THE BLUES has done loads of work and seems in good form at home. She might want to go a mile but she’s drawn well in stall seven, you want to be close to the stands’ side fence. Double Or Bubble was impressive at Newmarket and looks the danger, I like the way Chris Wall’s campaigned her, but hopefully Bounce The Blues is good enough.


This is a low grade race and you’d hope CRITIQUE would have a winning chance off a mark of 57 if he gets a good trip. He’s still a maiden so it would be nice to finally get his head in front.


I’ve won on her before at Leicester in heavy ground so she’ll certainly appreciate the slower conditions. Things will have happened way too fast for her over 10 furlongs at Newbury last time and this 1m5f trip looks fine. She should run well off a mark of 77.

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