Olly Murphy is the latest face to enter the racehorse training ranks. The 'young and ambitious' 25 year-old spoke to Gambling.com about his motivations for setting up his new yard, preparations, and learning his trade with Ireland’s leading trainer Gordon Elliott. As experts on racehorse betting, Gambling.com hopes to keep punters up-to-date on all that is happening in the world on horse racing including info on the newest trainers!
Q: Gordon Elliott has a huge season this year, it must have been great to play a big part in it?
"Yeah, it was. I was with Gordon’s for 4 years, so to have a big year, in my final year with him, was special. He had a great Cheltenham, with six winners and most winners he ever trained in a season in Ireland and UK, so it was great to leave on a good note."
Q: It must have been hard to lead the National Hunt Trainers Championship all season to be pipped by Willie Mullins on the final day of the season at Punchestown?
"Yeah, it was heartbreaking. It’s a kick in the teeth, but that’s racing. We were beaten by a champion but it’s only a matter of time before Gordon is champion trainer. He’s an incredible man and what he has achieved in such a short space of time is incredible. He’s a young man and he’s got plenty of time ahead of him."
Q: What attributes set him apart from other trainers?
"That a million dollar question, but it has to be the way he is able to win with a bad horse and a good horse. He doesn't treat them any different. He’s very good at his job - keeps them fit and healthy, and places horses in the right races. His main attribute, which I think is a big compliment, is he can win with horses that others can't."
Q: What attracted you to working in Gordon’s yard?
"I actually spent a couple of summers with Gordon while I was still at school in his old yard in Capranny Stables, Co. Meath. I got heavy and it didn't look like I’d be a jockey so I thought it would be a good idea to go there and he offered me a good position as his assistant trainer. The rest is history, and I had the best 4 ½ years of my life."
Q: He has delegated a lot of responsibility to you. He really gave you an opportunity to make the role your own and replicate the training experience?
"Yeah, most definitely, he was fantastic to me from day one. He’s a close friend of mine now. I bought plenty of horses when I was there. I ran syndicates, and had plenty of involvement with the big owners. That was good of Gordon to give me that responsibility because I know now, it’s not responsibility you’d want to give to anybody. If I didn’t leave him now to start training, I’d be there until I had to collect my pension."
Q: Any horses you directly managed or played a big part in?
"My dad handles horses for Graham Whateley and I was able to bring some of his into Gordon’s yard, the likes of Diamond King who went on to win the Coral Cup. As well, I enjoyed buying horses in the sales from trainers who I thought Gordon might be able to improve. I got great buzz out of buying a horse for little and have them win."
Q: Looking back on your 4 years with Gordon, do you have a favourite moment?
"Diamond King winning the Coral Cup was special as it was the same year that Don Cossack won the Cheltenham Gold Cup. I got as big of a thrill out of Diamond King winning. That week we had got to the Wednesday without a winner and we thought, “oh it’s going to be one of them weeks”, and No More Heroes was our best chance. He lost, so when Diamond King won, it was special. Gordon taking the top trainer award with 6 winners at this year’s Cheltenham Festival was magic as well."
Q: Must have been hard to leave Gordon’s at the height of his success?
"Massive. I love my sport, and I’ve always been told go out at the top. I just thought now is the time to go. I’m hungry, I want to be like Gordon Elliott - to come back to England and try to replicate what he has done in Ireland. It was a hard decision, but it’s a decision I think is the right one and hopefully I will prove that in years to come."
Q: Moving onto the important part, tell us about your yard and the team you have put together?
"I’m lucky enough to move home, where my mom has trained for the past 30 years, and my dad runs the stud. I have a 30-box American barn on a 400 acre farm. I have the same gallop as Gordon, a 4 ½ Wexford sand gallop and 2 ½ polytrack as well. Plenty of facilities and I am in a lucky position that I don’t have to rent anywhere, so just grabbing the opportunity with both hands and move forward."
Q: Your dad is one of the leading NH bloodstock agents, you have a real fire power of quality between both you and your parents?
"Big time. Hopefully I’ll be able to use my parents guidance as much as I can. It will be a big help for me sourcing horses, especially store horses, so I am very lucky. My mother has trained winners year in, year out for the past 30 years, so having her next door is a great help. They are two people I will take a lot of advice from."
Q: You are only 25, you don't normally see trainers so young. Did you have a target age that you wanted to start training, or has it come earlier than expected?
"I suppose it’s come a bit earlier than expected. I thought for a long time I might be a jockey. I ended up getting taller and heavier but I always had an interest in the training side of things. You only live once, and I am very lucky I’m in a position to start up in a great establishment, I’ve built up some good contacts, so I just thought the time is right. I am hungry and ambitious, and I just want to get going and train winners."
Q: How are you attracting new owners to your yard?
"I’m young and ambitious, I’ve state of the art gallops, the same as Gordon Elliott’s. I’ve spent my years learning from the best and I just will try keep everything as simple and as straightforward as possible. That’s what I’ve been taught. I’ve got a good grounding, met plenty of people, and seen different ways of training horses. We have 11 or 12 horses. We’re a small but select team here and the whole team are hungry to get going."
Q: Are you going to start up a racing club much like you did with the Gordon Elliott Racing Club and your mother’s Ridgeway Racing Club?
"My mother’s Ridgeway Racing Club is in the process of being changed to the Olly Murphy Racing Club. That will be up and running in a fortnight. We have 4 horses which have been bought from sales and go on quick ground, so they can race during the summer. There are plenty of shares available, so hopefully it will attract some people interested in getting involved in ownership, and they might have a bit of craic during the summer."
Q: You made a lot of effort to communicate online - through branding, your website, and social media. You seem to want to make racing as easy, accessible, and as marketable as possible.
"Yeah, in this day in age you need to use social media and express yourself over the internet. It’s a good way to interact, show your facilities off, and show people what you’ve got to offer."
Q: You also previously worked for Brian Meehan, and Alan King. What learnings have you taken from them that you will adapt to your own style of training?
"Brian Meehan is a very interesting man, he had the most amazing yard in Manton, it’s run very smart. Alan King was a great man to work for. Something I will always take from Alan King was the school mornings, they were fantastic. His horses jump very well. You just try and pick up little bits from Brian and Alan, every bit helps. But I suppose I was with Gordon for much longer and he would be the main person I have learnt from."
Q: You have a dual purpose license?
"Yes, I will be predominantly concentrating on jumpers, but I have a couple which will run on the flat in the summer. We’ve everything from sprinters to 3 mile chasers."
Q: Have you set any targets or milestones for the year?
"I haven’t really. Just to get up and running and start well. In sport, you need to start well and catch the public's eye. So if I get going, train half a dozen winners during the summer and hopefully win with horses other couldn’t, I’ll be delighted. That’s something that gave Gordon a great buzz, and I’d be the same. I’ll just try train as many horses as I can, and keep horse healthy and the owners happy - that’s the main thing."
Q: You see the big festivals in Ireland attract the likes of Nicky Henderson and Harry Fry, but probably not in the numbers you’d expect for the prize money on offer. Would you be inclined to run your horses over here in time?
"I would. I wouldn’t bring a horse over just to come over to go on the beer. If I had a horse with enough ability it would be something I would definitely do. The prize money in Ireland is second to none, and I think it’s something English racing can look at because it’s a different gravy. If I had the horse, I’d far prefer them to run in an Irish handicap than a big English handicap, because the prize money offers so much."
Follow Olly on Twitter @O_J_murphy91!
Check out Olly Murphy Racing at http://ollymurphyracing.com/!