Champion jockey Oisin Murphy raring to go as racing prepares to resume at Newcastle after 76 days away
CHAMPION jockey Oisin Murphy is champing at the bit as racing prepares to resume on Monday.
After 76 days away due to the coronavirus shutdown, the sport will restart with a bumper 10-race card on the all-weather at Newcastle.
When Murphy steered Never Dark to a third place finish at Wolverhampton on March 14, he wouldn't have expected to be out of the saddle until June.
But he has found ways to keep himself busy, with the ability to ride out helping give him a focus.
He said: "I've been about two months completely unemployed. I've been passing the time by walking and trying to keep on top of my fitness.
"I've been doing loads of cooking – I don't think I've improved too much! Salmon and mashed potatoes are a staple diet at the moment.
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"Netflix wore off after a few weeks. I suppose the first six weeks of lockdown I could hardly ride out, but the last fortnight or so I've been able to go into different stables and have a feel of some horses.
"That gives me a focus to my day, otherwise it's very difficult to just roll out of bed and have nothing to do or work towards.
"I've tried cycling – Tom Marquand and a few of those boys go off for miles and miles, but I can't keep up with them so I threw in the towel pretty quickly."
There will be strict protocols in place on racecourses for the foreseeable future, where the action will be behind closed doors, but Murphy doesn't expect any issues.
He said: "We've all been in regular contact with each other and our valets. We're going to be split into different groups and all have our own area in the weighing room.
"There won't actually be any need for us to get within two metres of each other. We are fully versed on the protocols and I feel comfortable that we can adhere to them correctly and we can go back racing and be good role models for other sports.
"I haven't ridden behind closed doors, but it's worked perfectly fine in Australia, Hong Kong and Japan over the last couple of months.
"It's nice to have an atmosphere – I think Frankie (Dettori) will miss the crowds! But at the end of the day we're looking forward to riding really good horses and buzzing off the thought of that."
Murphy will return with three rides at Newcastle tomorrow, including €2,000,000 purchase Luck On Sunday, who is a brother to Group 1 winner Alice Springs.
And he is setting out with the goal of retaining his jockey's title in 2020.
He added: "I'd like to be champion jockey again, of course I would, but the most important thing is I keep the people happy that I am riding for.
"I rode for 67 trainers last year and if I could ride for all those again and they were all happy to use me, that would be nice."
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