Elliott assistant Murphy to launch training career in England
Gordon Elliott might be close to winning a first trainers' championship but he is also about to lose a key member of his backroom team after Ollie Murphy revealed that he is due to return home to begin his own training career.
A son of well-known bloodstock agent Aiden Murphy and his wife Anabel, who trains in Warwickshire, 25-year-old Murphy has been a recognisable member of Elliott's frontline staff since joining the County Meath handler four years ago. However, he is to forego his position as assistant when Punchestown draws to a close next week, explaining that it was a case of now or never for him to take the plunge.
"Obviously leaving Gordon when he looks like he might be crowned champion trainer is a big deal, but I felt that if I didn't do it now, I might be here for another ten years," Murphy said of his decision.
"You could get too comfortable and decide to stay where you are. In sport, you have to make decisions like this, and it would be a great way to go off to think that I had played some small role in his being crowned champion, if it comes to pass.
"The last four years have been amazing. It has been some place to learn the trade and I love Ireland so I will miss all that, but I am also excited about starting my own yard."
Murphy added: "Gordon has been really supportive of my decision. He has been brilliant to me, giving me responsibilities such as running syndicates and dealing with big owners – that will stand me in good stead. I have learned more with him in four years than I have in my whole life."
Elliott paid tribute to Murphy, although he stressed that his departure won't change anything about the way things are done at Cullentra House.
"Ollie is a great fella and we will be sad to see him go, but we have a big team here and nothing will change from our point of view," he said. "He has a great way about him and gets on well with people, and that is important. We wish him well and will give him any support we can to help him on his way."
Murphy will be located at the 30-stable Warren Chase yard that is situated close to his mother's yard on their 350-acre Stratford-upon-Avon estate.
He has undertaken three training modules at Newmarket and is close to completing his licence application process, and makes no bones about how he will approach the vocation.
"Gordon treats everyone and every horse the same, whether they are syndicates or big owners or sellers or Gold Cup horses," he muses. "It doesn't matter what he wins, he gets the same thrill out of it, and I would be extremely competitive as well, so I will be the very same.
"I have around eight or ten handicappers that I have sourced for half-a-dozen syndicates, and I hope to have around 12 in for the summer, although it will be at least June before I have a runner. Gordon has drilled into me to keep my horses in the worst of company and myself in the best of company, so we'll try to work our way up.
"I have already put in a four-and-a-bit furlong Wexford sand gallop and a two-furlong round polytrack schooling strip to replicate Gordon's facilities, and I will look to use his methods as much as I can.
"Obviously my mother has 30 years' experience as well and Dad will be a great help sourcing horses. I realise how difficult it is to make a start at this job and I know that I am lucky to be in the position that I am in, so I want to make the most of it."