Oisin Murphy believes he can silence critics by roaring to Derby glory
Oisin Murphy is primed to answer a few critics as well as get one over on Ryan Moore when he links up with second favourite Roaring Lion in the £1.5 million Investec Derby at Epsom on Saturday.
With 77 victories this year 2018, Murphy is well on course to surpass last year's British tally of 127 and is a long way clear in the jockeys' standings for the calendar year.
Classic success is awaited, and Murphy is conscious that he has to beat Moore on red-hot favourite Saxon Warrior. The two riders fought out a desperate finish to the Racing Post Trophy on the same two colts last season when Murphy was critical of his own ride in the race.
Criticism and comment has also come from other quarters, including from Moore in a televised stewards' inquiry last summer, leaving Murphy steeled to respond in the best possible way over the switchback contours of the Derby course.
"I can't see any reason why Roaring Lion wouldn't handle the track," Murphy said yesterday. "He's beautifully balanced and is a very well-made horse. He's in good form and the performance at the Dante meeting was very good. Hopefully he'll run very well."
Last year Aclaim gave the 22-year-old a first Group 1 triumph in the Prix de la Foret and more top-level success has followed with victories in the E.P. Taylor at Woodbine on Blond Me and with Dubai Turf winner Benbatl on World Cup night in March.
Now Qatar Racing's retained rider has the chance of a maiden Classic on Roaring Lion who meets Saxon Warrior for the third time having run fifth in the 2,000 Guineas, since when he has won the Dante at York.
It will be Murphy's fourth Derby ride having come closest when fifth last year on Benbatl and in 2014 aboard 100-1 shot Red Galileo.
"It's a great opportunity. Everyone wants to ride in the Classics and to have a genuine chance of winning one is fantastic," Murphy added.
"I've had three previous rides in it, it's ultra-competitive and the most important race in Europe alongside the Arc. It's exciting. It's been a lucky meeting for me and it would be great to have a winner there again."
A game of opinions
Although always regarded as a prodigious talent, Murphy's ability has been scrutinised at times, including a swipe from Moore at Goodwood last summer when laughing during a televised inquiry as he claimed Murphy was not strong enough to keep his mount straight.
More recently, a narrow defeat on Lightning Spear in the Lockinge Stakes this month drew criticism in some quarters, but Murphy has not let detractors alter his mindset.
He added: "You have to be so level-headed. I've gone into races before – important races – and things didn't work out and you have to deal with that. It's easier said than done.
"[Racing UK's] James Willoughby commented I was on the wrong part of the track on Lightning Spear when I was probably three metres away from Ryan [Moore on Rhododendron] and I just stayed in a straight line. That was his opinion and it could have knocked my confidence but thankfully it didn't.
"It's a game where people are allowed to have an opinion and I have to be professional and take some and leave some."
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