May 31, 2019 News
IT is the biggest Flat race of the season at Epsom on Saturday and the leading British contender for the contest is Dante winner Telecaster.
Supplemented for the race, Telecaster has improved hugely already this season and is aiming to prevent Aidan O’Brien capturing a record-equalling seventh Derby.
We spoke to Telecaster’s jockey Oisin Murphy about his chances at the weekend, about his other chances at Epsom and on his prospects of being champion jockey.
You ride Telecaster in the Derby on Saturday. What does the race mean to you?
I’ve watched the race since I was a child and ridden in it four times now since becoming a jockey. It’s the ultimate horse race for me and everyone else in the British and European weighing room. This is one race and you don’t get very many opportunities to find a horse good enough to win it. I’m fortunate that I’ve found Telecaster and he’s been very good in the two races I’ve ridden him in.
You were fourth last year on Roaring Lion. Does that inspire you to do better this time around?
I was thrilled with the performance he put in and I wouldn’t have changed a thing I did on him that day either. In any race, you can handle being placed and not winning if you know you did the right things and wouldn’t make any changes – that’s how I felt that day. He ran a brilliant race and I hope I can get that win on Telecaster this year.
And what do you think a horse needs to win the Derby?
They have to have pace; a slow horse will not win the Derby. They have to also be a very well-balanced horse to handle going up and down and around the camber. If you can travel around on the bridle it gives you a chance to have a real stab at winning the race.
With all the hubbub around on Derby day, can it get to a horse before the race?
Of course. It gets to every single horse that runs there. You have to go a mile and a half to get to the start for one thing. Then there’s a funfair and buses going on in the middle of the course, people everywhere, music and loud speakers all potentially putting your horse off. The ones who handle that better give themselves more of a chance of winning then those who don’t.
Telecaster, your ride, was supplemented for the race for £85,000. Does that add any pressure?
He breezed five furlongs with Marmelo on Monday and I was very pleased with what he did that day. I’m delighted Hughie [Morrison] and the owners have taken the plunge to run him. They’re all very successful people and while it’s not an insignificant amount of money, they’re not going to go short by running in this race.
Some people have queried the quick turnaround from York and the horse’s inexperience, do you see them as problems at all?
The only way I can answer that honestly is to say I don’t know. He seems to have come out of York, where he won the Dante, extremely well and that means all we can do it hope he continues to improve and thrive. We all believe he will stay, as he is bred to by a winner of this race and has Oaks pedigree on the dam side. If he has improved, then in my opinion he goes there with a massive chance.
Aidan O’Brien saddles over half of the field for the Derby. How are you going to approach the race tactically?
I’ve ridden in several Group 1s now and Aidan often has multiple runners, so it’s not a new experience for me. I’m going to have a fair idea what everyone’s going to do as I know how they like to have their horses ridden, so I’ll see what plan I can come up with to overcome the threat they pose.
No horse has won from your draw in stall two. Do you have any concerns about that?
With just the 13 runners, stall two is fine for me. The bigger the field, the more worried you’d be about certain draws. Traditionally people would want a high draw in the Derby but we didn’t get one so we will focus on what we have and do our best.
You have three other rides on Derby day, how would you rate their chances?
I’d say they all have decent chances through the afternoon. Bella Ragaza (2.35), Genetics (5.15) and Watchable (5.50) all have each-way chances but Telecaster would be my best chance of the day.
And, finally, you are going strong at the top of the jockeys’ championship. What would winning the title mean to you?
It would mean everything. I had a go at it last year and wasn’t good enough and Silvestre was too hard to catch. This year I’ve started off better than last year and if I can keep that up then I’m going to give it my best shot. And don’t be under any illusions, there are plenty of jockeys out there wanting and trying to be champion jockey. It’s just a few have more opportunities than other to get the chances to ride the winners to be considered in it.