Racing hailed a new star on Saturday as 18-year-old Irish prodigy Oisin Murphy stole the show at Ayr by riding a 9,260-1 four-timer which included the William Hill Ayr Gold Cup on Highland Colori for his boss, Andrew Balding.
Balding and his father Ian have a great track record of producing future stars of the saddle with Seamus O’Gorman, Martin Dwyer and William Buick all coming through the Kingsclere academy and the feeling is that Murphy is the next cab off the rank.
Earlier in the week, Balding had stated that he would protect Murphy’s valuable 5lb claim by barring him from riding in races worth less than £6,000 and it seems a wise move as he will now be hot property in all the major races in what remains of the season.
Murphy was immediately made 9-4 by William Hill to be champion apprentice next season.
Highland Colori (20-1) was beaten a short-head in the Silver Cup 12 months ago off a mark of 91, yet including his penalty he was racing off 104 in Scotland and eventually ran out a comfortable two-and-a-quarter-length winner from Louis The Pious.
Murphy then won the following three races on John Quinn’s Lincoln winner Levitate (5-1 joint-favourite), a spare ride on Linda Perratt’s Silver Rime (20-1) and Quinn’s Cockney Sparrow (5-2 favourite).
Murphy said: “It’s been a great day, it was great to win the big race and it’s nice to have the other winners as well.
“I came over here in October last year and I couldn’t be more pleased with the way things have gone. I model myself on David Probert and William Buick,.You could not have two better role models. It’s been a smashing day.”
Buick himself believes the Balding family’s faith in young jockeys is giving Murphy the best possible grounding.
Buick spent his formative years at Kingsclere and became joint champion apprentice in 2008 along with another Balding prodigy Probert, before going on to be stable jockey to John Gosden.
“It was very good to see. A four-timer on Ayr Gold Cup days is a good effort and he rides well,” said Buick. “It’s nice to see and he’s in the right place.
“I think Andrew is right in keeping him in better class races and trying to preserve his claim. It makes sense. He’ll have it for next year and it’s good to use in handicaps.
“It was great for him and great for Andrew and the family. They really are fantastic with young jockeys. They put a lot of trust into young jockeys. They let you get on with it. When you’re young and learning your trade you make mistakes but you always get a second chance. That’s vital when you’re young.”
Balding had made the decision earlier in the week to keep Murphy away from riding in the smaller races and it paid dividends immediately. “We were just anxious he was riding a lot of winners and not Saturday winners, which was why we brought in the embargo about him not riding in the lower grade races and just wasting his claim,” the trainer told At The Races. “He showed everyone how good he is on Saturday. It’s an incredible performance for any jockey to ride four winners on the Ayr Gold Cup card but, as a 5lb claimer, it really is a special achievement. He’s no mug and I’ve sat him down on a couple of occasions to say it was all going a little quicker than ideal and he was very receptive.
“I think Saturday summed it up for him. I think he knows now the difference between riding a big winner and just riding a winner round Southwell. It is important for him to get that experience and I’m hoping his claim hasn’t gone by Ascot next year. If it’s gone after that, we can crack on but we’ll try to conserve it a little bit as that will be to his long-term advantage.”
Highland Colori has earned the chance of Group 2 success following his victory. The five-year-old could take up his entry in the Dubai Challenge Stakes over seven furlongs at Newmarket on 12 October after he showed his love of soft ground once more by taking one of the toughest sprint handicaps on the calendar.
“He loved the ground and a lot of his runs this season had been on ground which was quicker than ideal for him so he found a bit of improvement on the slower ground and Oisin (Murphy) gave him a lovely ride,” said Balding. “You never really know about the draw but we were early out and we were keen to be high rather than low, but it looked the trend all week and being high was a big advantage.
“We had him in the Listed race at Newbury (the Dubai Duty Free Cup) in case we wanted to take that option on Friday and I put him in the Challenge Stakes at Newmarket as he loves it there.
“He’s won over a mile and he’s obviously effective over six and seven furlongs as well and we’ll probably try him again over a mile at some stage. He might take his chance in the Challenge Stakes.”
Dean Ivory will keep a check on Tropics over the next few days to see if anything comes to light after his sprinter was a big disappointment in the Gold Cup. The five-year was sent off 6-1 favourite but beat only three home. “I want to see the race again,” said the Radlett handler. “I know he got bumped at one stage and Jim [Crowley] was saying he was a little unsuited to the ground. He also said the horse was a bit on the flat side, so I’ll see how he is over the next couple of days.”
Ancient Cross took the William Hill Ayr Silver Cup for veteran trainer Mick Easterby, 82, who then revealed he intends to retire at the end of the season.
Coral Mist snatched the William Hill – In The App Store Firth Of Clyde Stakes in the final strides.
How they finished
1 HIGHLAND COLORI (Oisin Murphy) 20-1
2 Louis The Pious 25-1
3 Jack Dexter 8-1
4 Heaven’s Guest 25-1
5 Baccarat 9-1
6 Regal Parade 25-1
7 Our Jonathan 20-1
8 Hoof It 9-1
9 Gabriel’s Lad 12-1
10 Spinatrix 16-1
11= Mass Rally 16-1; 11= Humidor 33-1; 13 Red Dubawi 25-1; 14 Dubawi Sound 40-1; 15 Hamza 25-1; 16 Joe Eile 33-1; 17 Hawkeyethenoo 14-1; 18 Hasopop 14-1; 19 Bogart 40-1; 20 Majestic Myles 40-1; 21 Duke of Firenze 25-1; 22 Lightning Cloud 33-1; 23 Tropics 6-1 Fav; 24 Khubala1 12-1; 25 Nocturn 50-1; 26 Lover Man 25-1.