From bareback horse-riding in Clondalkin to Epsom Derby delight

By Maurice Garvey

FROM mitching school as a teenager, to shaking hands with the Aga Khan and the Queen of England, after leading his horse Hanzard winner of Britain’s richest horserace The Epsom Derby – it has been one hell of a ride for trainee jockey Patrick Murray.

Clondalkin man Patrick (19) works as a stablehand in Kildare for one of Ireland’s most successful racehorse trainers Dermot Weld.

Patrick Murphy 1

The Aga Khan, an influential owner-breeder and one of the world’s richest royals, is the owner of Harzand – a thoroughbred racehorse Patrick picked out as a yearling and has looked after.

With jockey Pat Smullen on board, Harzand rode to glory at Epsom on June 4 – a first win in the Derby for Weld.

Murray, a rising star in the thoroughbred industry, first first fell in love with horses as a child, riding bareback in Bawnogue.

The former Moyle Park College student didn’t finish his Leaving Cert, but joined Cherry Orchard Equine Centre for training.

Patrick Murphy 2
GOOD BET: Winning racehorse Harzand with jockey Pat Smullen, Patrick Murray and trainer Dermot Weld

From there, he moved to the Race Academy in Curragh House three years ago, and his potential saw him picked up by Weld and with it, a ticket to the big leagues.

Patrick said: “I can’t put into words how I feel since I led Harzand in the Epsom Derby. My grandmother and grandfather were in tears. My grandad loves horses and would know all about them. My mother and father are over the moon.

“It was a big achievement meeting the Queen. It was the second time I met The Aga Khan. To go from mitching school to winning Epsom – this is unbelievable.”

Despite his rapid success, Murray remains humble and hasn’t forgotten his roots.

He continued: “I’m just so grateful to all the people who got me here from riding school in Cherry Orchard to Race Academy, to the people who used to let me mess around with their horses even before all that.”

Murray describes the boss Dermot Weld as a “very understanding, intelligent, and a great man.”

“I’m in a great place at Mr Weld’s. The lads in the yard are great. Pat Smullen said if I ever have a question to just ask him – he’s just a very nice man.”

The lead-up to the Epsom race was frought with anxiety, as Patrick’s passport needed renewal, this led to being on a queue of 500 in the passport office.

He continued: “I was way down the list, they asked how I thought the horse would do, I told them I’ll tell you when I get my passport, and that seemed to help.

“I was never even in England before – we were flying the horse over on a cargo plane. On the morning of the race, the horse punctured his foot, lost a lot of blood. We took a chance from 10.30am to 3pm, but the horse just took it all in his stride.”

Staff at Cherry Orchard Equine Centre congratulated Patrick Murray on his recent achievement, and said he “always demonstrated huge potential in the equine industry” during his time at the centre.

They said Patrick is one of a number of students who went to Race Academy from the equine centre and it’s “great to see him developing his skills and living out his potential.”

Patrick has a special bond with Harzand, who was sired from 2000 Epsom winner Son of the Sea, and has already accumulated earnings of over €1.5 million.

Although Patrick hopes one day to get his amateur licence and become a jockey, for now he is concentrating on Harzand, and a crack at the prestigious l’Arc de Triomphe in France in October.

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