Former jockey Pat Murphy is six years out of the racing saddle and was last seen riding at Cessnock on Bonee Tess for Jarrod Austin back in June of 2015, while his last winner arrived in March of that same year when helping Sungine to victory at Albury for the late Graeme Spackman.
In September of this year, the 36-year-old’s name returned to the race book, but this time as a trainer, when saddling up Affiliate at Nowra.
On Saturday, Murphy landed his first winner when Affiliate – ridden by Richie Bensley – held on gamely to win the 1600m Benchmark 50 Handicap.
It didn’t take Murphy long to get his second winner and land his first training-double, with Bet Red – ridden by apprentice Amy McLucas – powering home to win comfortably on debut in the 1300m Benchmark 58 Handicap.
Murphy admitted that he never expected to have trained a winner – let alone double – so early on in his career, but he was trying to keep a lid on the excitement.
“In the back of my mind, I knew to get a winner would be good, but I didn’t expect for it to happen so soon,” Murphy said.
“And to get two was unbelievable and it was great to have mum and dad there watching.
“There were a lot more people excited for me, and I didn’t get as excited as I thought I would, but I will enjoy the good days because you get the bad days too.”
Murphy’s winning double at Goulburn was not only a proud moment for his family and friends, but also for Wendy Walter, wife of the late Guy Walter who mentored Murphy during his formative years.
The young trainer touched on his relationship with the Walter’s family, and how that guided him to winning races all over NSW before taking out a trainer’s licence.
“Looking back now, the best part of my career was the connection with my old boss Guy Walter. He gave me all my opportunities and that is something I will cherish forever,” Murphy said.
“It was funny. I wanted to be an apprentice, and he didn’t want to take on an apprentice full time, and I’m sure he regretted it some days, but I’m grateful that he did.
“I actually talk to Wendy a fair bit and she was at Goulburn when I got my first two winners, and I was very excited to have her there.”
Murphy will no doubt benefit from having worked under the master trainer, and the former jockey was even lucky enough to ride some notable gallopers during his time.
“The stable he had was unbelievable, and he was very modest in the way he trained. They were all treated the same,” Murphy said.
“There were so many good ones and I remember winning on Appearance when she won first-up and she went on to win four Group 1s, so that was a bit of a thrill watching her career unfold.
“I’ve missed him greatly since his passing. I rode for a couple of years after he passed but it was never the same. He was a big influence on me.
Murphy, an accomplished rider in his day, touched on what finally ended his career.
“I rode a fair few city winners. I rode a winner at every city and provincial track and I’m proud of that but in a nutshell, it was weight that stopped me,” Murphy said.
“As I got older, I couldn’t lose the weight like could when I was younger.
“I always battled with my weight, and it just got to a point where I couldn’t be light enough and healthy and well, and I don’t like to be one of those people who do things half hearted, so I decided to call it a day and go down a different path.
Murphy never envisioned being a trainer, and almost went down the media route when his career in the saddle ended.
“If you speak to a lot of people I know, they will quote me saying that I was never going to be a horse trainer, because I know how hard it is, and how hard it can be,” Murphy said.
“I was a TV producer for Sky Racing and Channel 7, and I helped with their coverage, and I could have gone down the media pathway, but I ended up training.”
It was the opportunity to work with local trainers before being gifted a rare chance to set up shop on the Goulburn track that enticed Murphy into training.
“My ex-partner got into training, and I was pretty hands on with her business and after we split, I did a stint with Waratah Farm in the Southern Highlands and after that I went out to Kurt Goldman’s stables and worked for Kurt for an extended period of time, and it was a great way for me to work and still set my business up and get it running,” Murphy said.
“Then, what really made me become a trainer was that the Goulburn Race Club built a new complex of eight stables, and they offered them to me, and that opportunity swayed me to become a trainer and Goulburn is the only place I really wanted to train.”
After a red-hot start on his home track, Murphy hopes to kick on and win more races and make a name for himself in the South East, and he hopes his years as a jockey makes all the difference.
“One thing that I think will help with my training career is having that experience in the saddle and because I’m astute with my form and horse analysis,” Murphy said.
‘I’m a realist too, and I know how hard the game is because I’ve lived and breathed it my whole life, and I will try and use those advantages, but each trainer hasn’t those little things that help them too.”
Murphy also works his own horses, and he believes it allows him to get a feel for each of his gallopers.
“It’s something I’ve been good at. Even the Goulbourn trainers, I will help with their gallops too,” Murphy said.
“When riding, there are those little things you can pick up about a horse. It’s all the pieces of the puzzle you start to work out, and I really do think it helps me as a trainer getting on their backs.”
Murphy has already filled his boxes, and with a growing team, who knows what the future holds for the young Goulburn trainer.
“I’ve got eight in work. I’ve just employed some staff. I’ve been doing it all my own up until now, but I’ve got more horses racing, and I’ve had to put someone on,” Murphy said.
“Luke Geddes is also helping. He has given me a lot of support with pretraining, and the plan is to always have eight in work and use him for overflow.”
Murphy will be in action again on Sunday with Affiliate to be ridden by Brodie Loy in the 2000m Class One Plate at Canberra.