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Thursday 8 December 2016

Shockwaves as Murphy quits

Wexford native decides to retire from being a trainer as he 'can't make it pay anymore'

Colm Murphy has decided to retire from training with immediate effect
Colm Murphy has decided to retire from training with immediate effect

Trainer Colm Murphy shocked the racing fraternity yesterday when he announced that he is retiring from training.

The Wexford native revealed that he would be "winding down" his hugely successful training operation with immediate effect and his final runner could well come at Gowran Park next weekend.

Murphy sent out 20 Grade One winners throughout his career and among the top-class National Hunt horses to go through his hands were Champion Hurdle winner Brave Inca and Champion Chase winner Big Zeb.

In recent seasons, Murphy's seasonal winning numbers had taken a dip, but he had some notable success in the second half of last season, with Marlbrook winning a valuable race at Naas and Empire Of Dirt claiming the Leopardstown Chase in January, following that up by scoring in the Festival Plate at the Cheltenham Festival.

Murphy's most recent Grade One winner was Big Zeb when he won the Dial-A-Bet at Leopardstown back in 2011 and other big race winners for the stable included Quito De La Roque and the top-class mares Voler La Vedette and Feathard Lady.

"It has been a phenomenally difficult decision to make," admitted the 42-year-old, "but with my family and everyone in mind, we just think it is the right thing to do. From a business point of view, I have no doubt it is the right thing to do. It's something I've been thinking about for the last while and after a few difficult years, my accountancy background told me we just can't make it pay any more."

What makes the decision slightly more surprising to the general public is that Murphy had recently attracted owners Alan and Ann Potts to his yard and as well as having runners for them last season at some of the big festivals, Murphy also received more horses from the owners when they cut their ties with Henry de Bromhead.

"We've been very fortunate to have some fantastic horses over the years and I want to thank all the owners and staff that have given us so much support," said the trainer. "Winning the Champion Hurdle and the Champion Chase were great days and I suppose last year's Cheltenham winner was so sweet as it had been tough going for so long."

Plans for the future remain undecided, and he added: "I'm not sure what I'm going to do, to be honest. I'll take a bit of time and see what opportunities arise.

"It's not been an easy decision, but I had to have a chat with myself and you have to be realistic.

"It was a business decision at the end of the day."

Meanwhile, punters will take a huge interest in the Curragh tomorrow as the Group Two Beresford Stakes is the feature race on the card, but the Pick 6 roll over is set to rise to over €1,000,000 for the first time.

Units

Having been not won on Irish Champions Weekend and then again last weekend at Gowran Park, when there was no remaining units after just four races, the Pick 6 will cover the first six races at HQ, with the wide-open Joe McGrath Handicap over five furlongs the race that could prove a life-changer for somebody.

Tim Higgins of Tote Ireland said: "We are thrilled to be facing into a one million plus Pick 6 pool on Sunday at the Curragh and everyone has the opportunity to win or share in what will be the biggest pool that Tote Ireland has ever seen."

Aidan O'Brien has four runners as he attempts to win the Beresford Stakes for a 16th time, with Ryan Moore opting to ride Capri in the one-mile Group Two juvenile contest.

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