Champion jockey Murphy thought about quitting due to blackouts

·3-min read

Three-time British champion jockey Oisin Murphy, who is currently banned from riding, told the BBC he was blacking out from drinking so much last year he considered quitting horse racing.

The 26-year-old is barred from riding until next February having received a 14-month suspension in February -- backdated to December 8 -- after admitting breaching coronavirus protocols, misleading the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) and prejudicial conduct, plus two alcohol breaches.

Murphy, who was widely seen as the natural successor to his idol Frankie Dettori, says he considered hanging up his saddle after several attempts to give up drink failed.

"I might last a week or sometimes a month but it would spiral out of control again," he said.

"By the time Goodwood came around in August (2021) I had blacked out every night of that week.

"OK, I was probably blacking out very early in the evening so I was fine the next morning, but I really couldn't deal with the pressure and by the Breeders' Cup in November I was ready to stop riding."

The Breeders' Cup last November proved to be a positive experience for Murphy as it brought him his first winner in the prestigious meeting.

He produced a superb ride on Japanese outsider Marche Lorraine to win the $2 million Distaff race at the Del Mar track in California.

- 'Filled with embarrassment' -

However, he says that even a good day did not prevent him from drinking.

"Whether I rode well or poorly that day, whether I had winners or no winners, I dealt with it the same way," he said.

"I got in the car with my driver and I started drinking. I had no set plan as to what would be my last drink that evening."

It was a month prior to the Breeders' Cup that proved to be the pivotal moment for him -- at a race meeting at Newmarket on October 21.

"At about 11:55 the BHA had been tipped off that I had been drinking the night before and they asked me to blow on a breathalyser and I failed," he said.

"I was filled with embarrassment.

"I had finally realised that my career was over unless I sorted myself out, and also the embarrassment I brought not only on myself but the people closest to me."

Should Murphy be given his licence back next February it will be the second time he will have to prove himself after an enforced break.

He received a three-month ban in November 2020 from French governing body France Galop for testing positive for metabolites of cocaine.

"I want to get back in the saddle and show people that I'm healthy and I could get my life back together and win the races I haven't won before," he said.

"I haven't won enough Classics or a Derby or the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.

"I can't really live with the idea of failing another breath test. That's why I'm still going to AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) and still seeking help from my counsellor."

pi/jc

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