Showjumping, fitness and charity: how Oisin Murphy will fill his days during ban
Oisin Murphy has said that showjumping, charity work and fitness workouts will occupy him during the early months of 2021 as he looks forward to returning to the saddle in March.
Murphy was speaking to the Racing Post as part of a special feature in Sunday's newspaper, in which several leading figures from the sport, including Mark Johnston and Ed Chamberlin, discuss what 2021 might have in store.
For Murphy, the key date is March 11, when his three-month suspension for failing a drugs test in France expires, and he said he is "buzzing" at the thought of being involved on Dubai World Cup night later that month.
The champion jockey said: "I'll get as fit as I can and try to be mentally as sharp as I was before. I'm a realist, I'm not going to walk straight back in and be ready. You need match practice, so before I compete in Group 1s again I'm going to take every necessary step to be at my best. I wouldn't be as big into the gym as the likes of Tom Marquand, William Buick and James Doyle, who can lift some very heavy weights, but I'll do a lot on the bike and ride out from mid-February.
"Between now and then I'd like to do a lot of showjumping – not very competitively, I don't think I'll get to the heights I once dreamed of – and I've been hunting a couple of times, just to be riding horses. I'm going to use my time wisely. I've done quite a bit of charity work in the last month and I'll continue with that, because mentally it can only have a positive effect on me."
Murphy revealed he will aim to be champion jockey again but is determined to win more Group 1 races this time and nominated Cheveley Park winner Alcohol Free as a likely candidate.
"Alcohol Free looks as though she could be outstanding as a three-year-old," he added, "and Andrew [Balding] has some very nice unexposed three-year-olds to look forward to, including a lovely one of Sheikh Fahad's called Counsel, who was second on his only start at Newcastle in December. They're the horses that energise you for the year."
Read more from Oisin Murphy, Mark Johnston, Ed Chamberlin and more in the Big Read, available to members from 6pm on Saturday or in Sunday's Racing Post newspaper. Join Members' Club here.