Tears of joy for rising star Murphy as Hunters Call provides magic moment
You tend to hear a lot about wise men following a star at this time of year. At Ascot on Saturday the wise punters who latched on to rising star Olly Murphy in the Racing Welfare Handicap Hurdle were well rewarded as Hunters Call – backed in from 16-1 in the morning into an SP of 9-1 – stormed home on his first start for the yard to register an emotional success.
The 26-year-old Murphy started training only in July and, while he has made a fast start, he described victory in this prestigious £150,000 contest – still known to many as the Ladbroke – as the best moment in his career by "an absolute million miles".
"I've been training for five months and have trained the Ladbroke winner!" exclaimed Murphy with tears welling in his eyes and his voice bursting with pride, before adding: "I don't get emotional very often."
The young dual-purpose trainer, who previously served as assistant to Gordon Elliott, said: "You've got to be given the good horses to show you can train them. Thank God I've been given the chance to prove I can train a nice horse.
"That's my 30th winner since I started training and the best by an absolute million miles. I can't believe it. I'm completely speechless."
The victory was made even sweeter by the presence of jockey Jack Kennedy, the 18-year-old riding sensation who Murphy knows well from his days with Elliott.
"I have my own jockeys who are great but you can't leave these good lads in the weighing room," Murphy explained of his decision to book his old ally.
"I grew up with Jack when I was at Gordon's, so to watch him ride a winner for me in the Ladbroke is very special.
"Jack is naturally talented. When you've got it, you've got it – and Jack definitely has it. I always said I would use the best available and I'm just so delighted Jack could come over to ride him."
Hunters Call, who always travelled well, picked up the running on the approach to the second-last, at which point the Evan Williams-trained Evening Hush sadly suffered a fatal fall.
It was left to Williams' other representative Silver Streak, ridden by another teenager earning rave reviews in Mitchell Bastyan, to give chase, but Hunters Call had three lengths in hand at the line, while 5-1 favourite Verdana Blue kept on to finish third.
Bastyan said: "There's another big day left in him. He travelled and jumped great but just bumped into a good one."
A good one primed to perfection.
"This was D-Day," said Murphy. "I'll enjoy today and worry about the rest of the season tomorrow. But I imagine I'll look after his mark with Cheltenham in mind."
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