Timmy Murphy

Last updated

Timmy Murphy
Comply or Die.jpg
Occupation Jockey
Born (1974-08-20) 20 August 1974 (age 49)
County Kildare
Racing awards
2005 jump jockey of the year Lester Award
Significant horses
Beef Or Salmon
Al Eile
Our Vic
Comply or Die

Timothy James Murphy (born 20 August 1974 in County Kildare, Ireland), known as Timmy Murphy, is a retired Irish jockey who competed mostly in National Hunt racing. A multiple Grade 1-winning rider, he is best known for his victory on Comply or Die in the 2008 Grand National. He overcame problems with alcohol, which had led to a prison sentence after a drunken incident on a plane in 2002, to resume a successful career and win the 2005 jump jockey of the year Lester Award. He won the Irish Grand National on Davids Lad in 2001, and the Scottish Grand National on Merigo in 2010 and 2012. He had eight winners at the Cheltenham Festival, the first in 1997 and the last in 2009. He recorded his 1000th win in Britain in 2010. Following an injury in a fall in 2010 he was unable to regain his licence to ride over jumps and switched codes, riding on the flat from 2015 until 2018, when he retired from race riding.



Murphy was born on 20 August 1974 on Newberry Stud near Kilcullen where his father, former point-to-point jockey James Murphy, was stud groom. He grew up on the stud farm with brother Brian and learnt to ride as a young child. He went hunting and competed in gymkhanas and pony racing with his pony, Bluebell. [1] :13.15.23 At the age of fourteen he started riding out for trainer Noel Chance on the Curragh at weekends and during school holidays and began full-time work at the yard on leaving school shortly before his sixteenth birthday. [1] :36,42 He moved to the yard of trainer Dermot Weld and then to that of Declan Gillespie, but he was sacked from both yards and, apart from riding in a bumper and a point-to-point on horses owned by his father, had yet to ride on a racecourse. [1] :42,45,52-3 It was when he was working for trainer Mick Halford that he started to get rides with an amateur licence, winning his first point-to-point in 1993 on Gayloire at Kilmuckridge. [1] :65 After a stint with Michael Hourigan in Patrickswell, which brought in more point-to-point winners and a first bumper winner with The Real Article at Puchestown in 1994, Murphy moved to England in 1995. [1] :83, 92 He turned professional later that year while working at the yard of trainer Kim Bailey in Lambourn, Berkshire. [1] :100


Murphy rode 26 winners during his first season in England. [1] :109 In late 1996 he lost his job with Bailey, due to his drinking which left him unable to get up in the morning. He rode as a freelance for the rest of the 1996/97 season, riding 28 winners including his first Cheltenham Festival winner in March 1997 on Terao in the Mildmay of Flete Challenge Cup. [1] :115-6 At the beginning of the 1997/98 season he was offered the job of first stable jockey to trainer Paul Nicholls. The job involved only occasional work riding in the mornings, so Murphy's timekeeping was not a problem. [1] :119 He rode 60 winners that season, in spite of a total of 52 days' suspension for use of the whip, but lost his job in November 1998, due mainly to his lack of communication with owners. [1] :135 He was soon offered a job riding for owner Wally Sturt, whose horses were trained by Jim Old, and rode his second Cheltenham Festival winner in 1999 on Sturt's Sir Talbot in the Vincent O'Brien County Hurdle. [1] :140,145 He finished the season on 73 winners. [1] :146

The following two seasons, 1999/2000 and 2000/01, Murphy was again riding freelance, and his tally of winners went down slightly. In November 1999 he won the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury on Ever Blessed for trainer Mark Pitman. [1] :149-50,153 In April 2001 Murphy rode Smarty, trained by Mark Pitman, into second place in the Grand National. The race is remembered for the atrocious wet and muddy conditions in which it was run and for a pile-up caused by a loose horse at the Canal Turn on the first circuit. Only two horses, Smarty and winner Red Marauder, finished unhindered, with two more finishing after being remounted. [1] :158-9 In May 2001 he won the Irish Grand National on Davids Lad. [1] :162 That summer Nicholls asked him to return to his yard at Ditcheat as stable jockey and the 2001/02 was Murphy's most successful to date, with 98 winners by mid-April. [1] :166,171

In April 2002 Murphy rode the Nicholls-trained Cenkos into fifth place in the Nakayama Grand Jump in Japan. On the flight home, Murphy became very drunk and put his hand up the skirt of a cabin crew member. The police were waiting for him at Heathrow. [1] :172-8 In July 2002 he pleaded guilty to being drunk on an aeroplane and to sexual assault at Isleworh Crown Court and was sentenced to six months in prison. [1] :194 In the meantime he had spent five months in The Priory, Southampton, to address his problems with alcohol. [1] :187 After his release from Wormwood Scrubs, Murphy went to Ireland and spent a few weeks with trainer Michael Hourigan before returning to race riding. It was Hourigan's horse Beef Or Salmon who provided Murphy with the victories he needed to rebuild his career, winning the Ericsson Chase in December 2002 and the Irish Gold Cup in February 2003. Murphy rode Beef Or Salmon in fifteen races for seven wins, including five Grade 1s. [2]

Murphy falling from Savant Bleu in 2012 Jockey Falls During Horse Race (Timmy Murphy) (8137762176).jpg
Murphy falling from Savant Bleu in 2012

Murphy rode two winners at the 2004 Cheltenham Festival: Tikram in the Mildmay of Flete Challenge Cup and Creon in the Pertemps Final. In May 2004 Murphy was signed as retained rider for Martin Pipe's major owner David Johnson. [2] He rode two winners for Pipe at the 2005 Cheltenham Festival, Contraband in the Arkle Chase and Fontanesi in the Vincent O'Brien County Hurdle, and the following month won the Aintree Hurdle on Al Eile for trainer John Queally. He finished the season on 143 winners, the first time he had passed a century. [1] :243-5 Murphy was awarded the 2005 Lester Award for jump jockey of the year. [1] :253

In the 2005/6 season Murphy rode Our Vic, owned by Johnson and trained by Pipe, to wins in the Paddy Power Gold Cup, the Grade 1 Ascot Chase and the Silver Trophy Chase. The following season Our Vic, now trained by David Pipe, who had taken over the licence from his father, won the Charlie Hall Chase and Al Eile won a second Aintree Hurdle. [3]

In March 2008 Murphy won the Ryanair Chase on Old Vic, taking his Festival tally to seven. On 5 April 2008 Johnson's Comply or Die provided Murphy with the highlight of his career when they won the Grand National. [4] Murphy rode Comply or Die in the following three Grand Nationals, coming second to Mon Mome in 2009, twelfth in 2010 and pulling up in 2011. When Comply or Die retired, he went to live at Murphy's Cilldara Stud. The 2008 Aintree meeting also saw Murphy win the Totesport Bowl Chase on Old Vic, beating Kauto Star by a nose, and secure a third win on Al Eile in the Aintree Hurdle. [3]

In 2009 Murphy rode his eighth, and final, Cheltenham Festival winner with Chapoturgeon, trained by Nicholls, in the Centenary Novices' Handicap Chase. In January 2010 he rode his 1000th British National Hunt winner. [5] In 2010 and 2012 he rode Merigo, trained by Andrew Parker and owned by Murphy's father-in-law Ray Green, to victory in the Scottish Grand National. [3] In December 2013 Murphy was suspended for nine days after starting a fight in the weighing room, during which his shoulder was discolated when he was restrained by a jockeys' valet. [6] A fall in January 2014 caused another dislocation and Murphy underwent surgery. When he returned to race riding in May 2015 it was with a licence to ride on the flat, as he was not passed as medically fit to ride over jumps. [7] His first winner on the flat was at Wolverhampton Racecourse on 7 May 2015 on Houdini, trained by Jamie Osborne. The trainer, himself a former National Hunt jockey, said that Murphy's style of riding would stand him in good stead in flat racing: "One thing that he has always been is a master of almost smuggling a horse through from A to B as efficiently as possible". [8]

Murphy rode for three seasons on the flat, riding 31 winners in 2017. He struggled with his weight however and decided to retire aged 43 in 2018, his last race being a win on Happy Escape at Chepstow on 15 May 2018. [9]

Personal life

Murphy met his partner Dawn Symonds, who was a work rider for trainer Mark Pitman, in 1999 and the couple had a son, Shane, in December 2000. They separated in 2005. [1] :155,246 In 2008 Murphy married Verity Green, daughter of Scottish racehorse owner Ray Green. The couple have two sons, Lucas and Finn, who compete in pony racing. [10] Murphy's Cilldara Stud near Cheltenham provides rest and recuperation for racehorses. [7]

In 2002, Murphy was sentenced to six months imprisonment for indecently assaulting an air stewardess on a Virgin Atlantic flight from Tokyo to London Heathrow. [11] [12] He ultimately spent 84 days in Wormwood Scrubs before returning to racing. [13]

Cheltenham Festival winners (8)

Major wins

Flag of the United Kingdom.svg Great Britain

Flag of Ireland.svg Ireland

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tony McCoy</span> Northern Irish jockey

Sir Anthony Peter McCoy, commonly known as AP McCoy or Tony McCoy, is a Northern Irish former National Hunt horse racing jockey. Based in Ireland and Britain, McCoy rode a record 4,358 winners, and was Champion Jockey a record 20 consecutive times, every year that he was a professional.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ruby Walsh</span> Irish jockey

Rupert "Ruby" Walsh is an Irish former jockey. He is the second child, and eldest son, of former champion amateur jockey Ted Walsh and his wife Helen. Widely regarded as one of the greatest National Hunt jockeys of all time, Walsh is the third most prolific winner in British and Irish jump racing history behind only Sir Anthony McCoy and Richard Johnson.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Barry Geraghty</span> Irish jockey

Barry Geraghty is a retired Irish jockey. He is the second most successful jockey of all time at the Cheltenham Festival.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Graham Lee (jockey)</span> Irish jockey (born 1975)

Graham Lee is an Irish jockey. Based in England, he won the 2004 Grand National on Amberleigh House. In 2014 he switched to riding on the flat and won the Ascot Gold Cup on Trip To Paris in 2015.

Charlie Swan is a former top National Hunt jockey in Ireland in the 1990s. He is associated with the great Istabraq, on whom he won three Champion Hurdles. He was twice top jockey at the Cheltenham Festival and was champion National Hunt jockey in Ireland for nine consecutive years. After retiring as a jockey he spent several years a trainer, based in Modreeny near Cloughjordan, County Tipperary.

Robbie "Puppy" Power is a retired National Hunt jockey. The son of Irish show-jumper Con Power, Robbie Power rode the 33-1 outsider Silver Birch to victory in the 2007 John Smith's Grand National at Aintree Racecourse on Saturday 14 April 2007. It was his second Grand National ride after his Grand National debut in 2005. In 2011 he had his first Cheltenham Festival winner in the RSA Chase. In 2017 he won the Cheltenham Gold Cup and the Punchestown Gold Cup on Sizing John. He also won the Irish Grand National on Our Duke.

Michael Fitzgerald is a retired Irish National Hunt jockey and current television racing pundit. Fitzgerald rode for the majority of his career in Great Britain and less often Ireland.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Richard Johnson (jockey)</span>

Richard Johnson is a retired English National Hunt jockey. Johnson is the second most prolific winner in the history of National Hunt Racing behind Sir Anthony McCoy, a long-time rival of Johnson's, with over 3500 winners. Richard Dunwoody previously held the record with 1874.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Andrew Thornton</span> British jockey

Andrew Thornton is a retired National Hunt jockey.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Paul Carberry</span> Irish jockey

Paul Carberry is a retired Irish National Hunt jockey.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Aidan Coleman</span> Irish National Hunt Jockey

Aidan Coleman is an Irish National Hunt jockey, who has ridden multiple Grade 1 winners in the United Kingdom including at the Cheltenham Festival.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Davy Russell</span> Irish National Hunt jockey

Davy Russell is an Irish retired National Hunt jockey. He was Irish jump racing Champion Jockey three times, and won the Grand National (twice), the Cheltenham Gold Cup and the Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris.

Paddy Brennan is an Irish jump jockey. He was champion conditional jockey in the 2004/05 season and won the 2010 Cheltenham Gold Cup on Imperial Commander. As of 2021 he is based in Gloucestershire, where he is stable jockey at Fergal O'Brien's yard.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Daryl Jacob</span> Irish National Hunt jockey (born 1983)

Daryl Jacob is an Irish National Hunt jockey who rode for trainer Paul Nicholls as second jockey to Ruby Walsh. When Walsh left the Nicholls yard Jacob took over as principal rider. He won at the Cheltenham festival for the first time in 2011 on Zarkandar in the Triumph Hurdle. His second Cheltenham Festival win was in 2014 on Lac Fontana in the Vincent O Brien County Handicap Hurdle on the last day of the festival. However, before the start of the next race he suffered a broken leg, knee and elbow after Port Melon crashed into the rail.

Edward O'Grady is an champion Irish National Hunt racehorse trainer. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, O'Grady was the leading Irish trainer at Cheltenham by number of winners. He was played by Pierce Brosnan in the 1980 film Murphy's Stroke.

Andrew McNamara is a retired Irish National Hunt jockey. McNamara had his first winning ride on La Captive in a bumper at Wexford in July 2002. He turned professional at the beginning of the 2004-05 season.

Bryan Cooper is a retired Irish National Hunt jockey and is the son of trainer Tom Cooper and his mother is Geraldine Cooper née O'Brien. Cooper was born in Tralee, County Kerry, Ireland and in his short career scored notable wins at the National Hunt Cheltenham Festival.

Noel Fehily is a retired Irish professional horse racing jockey. Throughout his professional career, he has enjoyed substantial success including the King George VI Chase and Champion Hurdle, despite enduring significant injuries.

Bryony Frost is an English National Hunt jockey from Buckfastleigh, Devon. In 2019 she became the first female jockey to win a Grade 1 race at the Cheltenham Festival.

Denis O'Regan is a retired Irish jockey who competed in National Hunt racing and won seven Grade 1 races. In November 2023 he became the first jockey to ride a winner at every active National Hunt racecourse in Britain and Ireland. He retired after riding at Navan on 18 November 2023.


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 Murphy, Timmy; MacClean, Donn (2006). Riding the Storm: my autobiography. Newbury, Berkshire: Highdown. ISBN   1905156278.
  2. 1 2 O'Connor, Brian (2009). Kings of the Saddle: Ireland's greatest jockeys. London: Aurum Press Ltd. pp. 140–54. ISBN   9781845134440.
  3. 1 2 3 "Timmy Murphy stats". Racing Post . Retrieved 28 November 2022.
  4. "2008 Grand National". BBC Sport. 5 April 2008.
  5. "Murphy reaches 1,000 landmark after helping hand from Nicholls". The Times. 22 January 2010.
  6. "Timmy Murphy banned for nine days after weighing room altercation". The Guardian. 5 December 2013.
  7. 1 2 "'If it gets a run on you it's a vicious circle' - Murphy on weight battle". Irish Independent. 14 April 2018.
  8. "Grand National winner Timmy Murphy rides first success on Flat". The Guardian. 11 May 2015.
  9. "Timmy Murphy: it was getting to the stage where I just didn't want to go racing". 17 May 2018.
  10. "Meet the nine-year-old jockey from Gloucestershire tipped for the top". GloucestershireLive. 17 August 2018.
  11. "Irish jockey jailed in UK for indecent assault". The Irish Times. 23 July 2002. Retrieved 10 February 2024.
  12. "Jockey jailed for assault". The Guardian. 24 July 2002. Retrieved 10 February 2024.
  13. "Prison saved my life and my career, admits reformed Murphy". The Evening Standard. 14 April 2012. Retrieved 10 February 2024.