Jockey Oisin Murphy is leaving no stone unturned as he prepares to take up the ride on Phoenix Thoroughbreds’ star filly Loving Gaby in Saturday’s Golden Slipper Stakes.
As well as doing his homework on his rivals the Irish horseman has arranged to get to know the daughter of I Am Invincible a little bitter on the eve of Australia’s Premier Two-Year-Old race.
“I’ve organised to sit on her on Friday morning,” explained Murphy “that will give me an opportunity to gel with her at the slower paces and the chance to make friends!”
Despite spending three months in Australia as an 18-year-old apprentice, this will be the first time the jockey has ridden in Sydney and true to his reputation of being one of the most diligent riders in the World he’s putting in the work to make sure he can be prepared as possible for the challenge ahead.
“I’ve been watching most of the trials, so I know most of the main opponents including all of the Godolphin runners.” said Murphy on a rare break amid a busy schedule which will see him fly to four continents in just over a week. “All the past races are on Youtube as well, so I’ll be watching the last few years of the Golden Slipper, and I’ll have a walk of the track beforehand.”
In addition to keeping track on his rivals, Murphy has also maintained a close eye on his mount for Saturday’s big race, and he’s been impressed with what he has seen including the filly’s unlucky run when sixth in the Group One Blue Diamond.
“She’s a fine, big strong filly, and she won well first time at Caulfield (In the Group Three Chairman’s Stakes).” assesses the 23-year-old. “In the Blue Diamond she still looked a little bit green in the run, where there wasn’t loads of space, but she is bound to improve for it. This will be her first time going right handed but she trialled going that way at Royal Randwick last week, and she was very impressive. I think she has a very good chance.”
The multiple-Group One winning jockey is hoping his previous experience of riding in Australia will hold him in good stead when it comes to a different way of racing than in Europe and his record in the country is excellent. He’s notched up two runners-up placing from two starts at the highest level while his stint as an apprentice also yielded good results.
“I was fortunate I had a Listed winner when I was out there as an apprentice and rode numerous Metropolitan winners at Flemington and Moonee Valley.” Murphy recalls. “Last year I rode in the Cox Plate which had always been an ambition to ride in the big races in Australia. The racing there is a bit more like Hong Kong where things happen very fast, gate speed is more important, and you don’t have much time to change your position from where you are. Tracks are generally tighter, so you have more time and space in Europe. Everyone will be aggressive from the start; it’s a different world when you head to Australia and Asia, and what you do in the first furlong is crucial.”
After her sixth place in the Blue Diamond, Loving Gaby is available to back internationally at around 20/1, a price that isn’t putting off her new partner in the saddle.
“I’m looking forward to the ride, and I’m really pleased she got in.” said Murphy. “I just hope we get a good draw, but they tend to go up the middle when the ground gets soft so the draw might not be as important as it usually would. It’s a fantastic opportunity, and due to the large field, you always feel that 20/1 shots have a good chance plus she doesn’t know what her price is so let’s give out our best shot and see what happens!”
The Golden Slipper tales place at Rosehill Gardens on Saturday.