Oisin Murphy bounces straight back to land Coronation Stakes

Alcohol Free lands at Royal Ascot after win on Dragon Symbol overturned by stewards

Oisin Murphy on board Alcohol Free (L) took the Coronation Cup at Royal Ascot. Photograph: Harry Trump/Getty

Oisin Murphy on board Alcohol Free (L) took the Coronation Cup at Royal Ascot. Photograph: Harry Trump/Getty

 

Rarely has a jockey redeemed themselves so spectacularly - or quickly - as Oisin Murphy did at Royal Ascot on Friday.

Having committed a blatant case of rider error that resulted in his mount Dragon Symbol losing the Commonwealth Cup in the stewards room, the Kerry man bounced back in the following Coronation Stakes with a perfectly judged success on Alcohol Free.

Even after that Murphy’s up-and-down day continued as he was briefly unshipped from Alcohol Free as they trotted back in front of the stands.

If the 25-year-old British champion jockey appeared to stick his tongue out passing the line on Alcohol Free he couldn’t be accused of letting his lip wobble due to the earlier reverse.

“I said to my valet there is no place for tears (after losing the previous race.) There are harder things in the world. We’re in the entertainment industry. Let’s look forward to the next one,” Murphy said.

That next one saw Alcohol Free make a mockery of an stamina fears on ground so testing the track had to pass an inspection less than two hours before the first.

Campanelle and Frankie Dettori (L) were declared the eventual winners of the Commonwealth Cup ahead of Dragon Symbol and Oisin Murphy. Photograph: David Davies/PA
Campanelle and Frankie Dettori (L) were declared the eventual winners of the Commonwealth Cup ahead of Dragon Symbol and Oisin Murphy. Photograph: David Davies/PA

Up to 40mms of rain had authorities making contingency plans in case of a cancellation and 26 horses were taken out of their races due to the going.

Alcohol Free made light of the conditions to win at 11-2 over Snow Lantern with Aidan O’Brien’s Guineas winner Mother Earth in third.

It was a perfect outcome for Murphy whose mood must have swooped and dipped after losing the Commonwealth Cup.

Having got to the front over a furlong out, Murphy allowed Dragon Symbol drift to the right, carrying the US filly Campanelle and Frankie Dettori across the track.

The pair bumped a number of times and Murphy used the whip in his left hand before taking an age to switch and straighten up.

Ample evidence of how the first past the post gets the benefit of the doubt in these islands meant there was doubt about the stewards decision but eventually they got it right and reversed the places in favour of the Wesley Ward trained runner.

“It doesn’t really matter what I feel, the stewards felt Campanelle deserved the race,” the disappointed Irishman said.

“I’m thrilled for Wesley Ward. In his own words Dragon Symbol was the best horse in the race so does anyone else need an opinion? I don’t think so,” added Murphy.

It was the sort of defiance that characterised much of Johnny Murtagh’s stellar riding career which yielded 48 Royal Ascot winners in the saddle.

Friday however saw Murtagh take another significant step with a first success as a trainer at the meeting courtesy of Create Belief in the Sandringham Handicap.

It was a very first Royal Ascot win for her 19-year-old jockey Ben Coen and brought the Irish tally for the week to four.

Create Belief and Ben Coen gave Johnny Murtagh his first win at Royal Ascot. Photograph: Alan Crowhurst/Getty
Create Belief and Ben Coen gave Johnny Murtagh his first win at Royal Ascot. Photograph: Alan Crowhurst/Getty

Coen had been delighted to see rain in the morning but admitted to being “a bit itchy” when it turned to talk of possible cancellation.

“It’s a huge win and great to be part of. She travelled so easily and loved the ground. You can ride her anyway you want she’s so uncomplicated.

“I couldn’t ask for a better mentor than Johnny. It’s my first time here and it’s a big help having someone like him behind me,” Coen reported.

There was no argument that Murphy was the central player on Day 4 however and he is in pole position to be crowned top jockey for the week on four winners after also scoring on Quickthorn in the Duke Of Edinburgh.

Alcohol Free’s trainer Andrew Balding doubled up in the opening Albany Stakes as the 16-1 shot Sandrine ploughed through the mud to beat Hello You by a length and a half.

Alenquer beat the Derby winner Adayar in the Sandown Trial and returned to action with victory in the King Edward VII.

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