Champion jockey Oisín Murphy to answer BHA charges

Killarney-born rider to respond on breach of Covid-19 protocols and positive alochol tests

Oisín Murphy will appear before the independent disciplinary panel of the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) on Tuesday to answer charges relating to a breach of Covid protocols and twice testing positive for alcohol above permitted levels on the racecourse.

The BHA announced in December it had conducted a “detailed investigation” after being made aware of a possible breach of coronavirus protocols by Murphy related to travel in September.

The BHA subsequently issued three charges and a hearing in front of a disciplinary panel was arranged to take place on December 10th.

But after receiving submissions from Murphy’s legal team regarding his welfare, and Murphy deciding to relinquish his riding licence with immediate effect, the BHA agreed to postpone the hearing.

Murphy – champion jockey for the last three seasons – returned two positive tests for alcohol on the racecourse in 2021, at Chester in May and at Newmarket in October. He was crowned champion again on Qipco British Champions Day at Ascot in October following an epic battle with William Buick.

The Killarney-born rider looked set for a comfortable defence of his title with a few weeks of the season to go, but a late charge from Buick set up a thrilling finale, with Murphy ultimately coming out on top by 153 winners to 151.

Multiple Group One winner

Big-race victories for Murphy in 2021 included the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot and the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood aboard Alcohol Free, with his latest top-level success coming at the Breeders' Cup aboard Japanese mare Marche Lorraine in the Distaff.

But off the track it was not plain sailing for the Irishman, who was forced to give up rides at Newmarket in October after failing a racecourse breathalyser test amid reports of an incident the previous night.

In a statement issued in December, Murphy said: “On returning from abroad last September in 2020 I failed to follow the Covid protocol set out by the BHA. In breaking these rules, and attempting to mislead the BHA, I’ve let my governing body down, along with trainers, owners, staff, sponsors and family for which I wish to apologise.

“In addition to this there have been two racecourse incidents linked to alcohol during 2021. It became obvious to me and to everyone else that I needed to seek serious help.

“In recognition of this I have relinquished my licence and will now focus on my rehabilitation. I am grateful to the BHA for agreeing to postpone the disciplinary hearing until I have been able to take these steps.

“Whether I deserve it or not, many kind people have stood by me and I really appreciate their support. I’m deeply embarrassed and regret my actions.”