In-demand Murphy hoping to cap magnificent year with success at Sha Tin
Oisin Murphy is a man in demand as he has bagged six rides at Sha Tin on Sunday, including three in the Longines Hong Kong International Races.
The 2014 apprentice champion jockey has enjoyed a landmark year, winning a Group 1 for the first time when steering Aclaim to glory in the Prix de la Foret in October, and he didn't have to wait long for his second top-level success as Blond Me – who he rides in the Hong Kong Cup – struck in the EP Taylor Stakes just two weeks later.
Murphy, who has also enjoyed his most successful year in terms of winners, said as he watched trackwork on Saturday: "I've got three rides in the international races and then three in the local races. There are 40 jockeys here on Sunday so to have six rides is a dream come true. This is the stage you want to be on."
Murphy is reaping the rewards from a spell in Hong Kong last year, which he credits with helping improve his riding.
He said: "It's very good for your riding – really sharpens you up – and you are riding with some of the best jockeys in the world. I think I learned plenty from it. It definitely sharpens you up and has helped with riding at tracks like Chester."
Hong Kong Vase contender Chemical Charge is a 40-1 chance up against high-class rivals such as Highland Reel, Talismanic and Japanese St Leger winner Kiseki – who was confirmed fit to race on Saturday – but Murphy expects the sound underfoot conditions to bring out the best in his progressive mount and nominates him as his best chance in the international races.
"I think Chemical Charge can run very well," said Murphy. "He's got his conditions and is relatively fresh. Hopefully he can run a career best."
He also rides Lightning Spear in the Mile (7.50).
Hong Kong connection
Sir Mark Prescott was in attendance at trackwork on Saturday and, while he may not have a runner in Sunday's international races, he will be an interested observer in the Hong Kong Cup thanks to the participation of old ally Time Warp.
Prescott sent out Time Warp to win five races on the spin, including twice at Listed level, and always held the horse in high regard before he was purchased to run in Hong Kong.
He said: "He was a very nice horse and won his last five for me, they gave me a nice price and I hope he wins."
One of the most famous horses in Hong Kong history also started out with Prescott. Viva Pataca won eight Group 1s in Hong Kong but began his career with Prescott when he was a progressive juvenile known as Comic Strip.
Prescott said: "I also had Viva Pataca so I've sold two very decent ones here.
"I want them to do well because I want them to come back and buy another one; I also really want the jumpers to do well."
Lockheed, who was placed at Group 1 level when trained by William Haggas, makes his first start in Hong Kong for Danny Shum in the 6f handicap (7.15).
He will be partnered by 'magic man' Joao Moreira, who said: "Whatever he does at the weekend he will improve from because he’s a gross type of a horse. He will need a few runs.
"He was expensive, though, because he is a good horse. I like the way he moves and if he goes there and wins first-up I wouldn’t be surprised because he has natural ability."
Rivet, who was also trained by Haggas and won the 2016 Racing Post Trophy, makes his second start in Hong Kong for John Moore in the concluding mile handicap (9.50).
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