‘I told my mum I’d won a few quid at Cheltenham’

The Cork stable lad who scooped about €1.5m on a Cheltenham accumulator bet joked last night about being called ‘Heskey’ because of his poor strike rate in front of goal.

Emile Heskey, the struggling Aston Villa striker, is notorious for his lack of goals.

But as the village of Ballineen in West Cork toasted 28-year-old Conor Murphy yesterday, he joked about his wager: “I stuck this one away alright.

“It’s a great day for the parish,” he said. “I’ll go home some time soon and we’ll celebrate. We’ll have a good old party some night.”

Murphy, who works for trainer Nicky Henderson in Lambourn, scooped the accumulator jackpot after predicting the winners of five races — all trained by his boss.

“It’s unbelievable odds — I’m still in shock,” he said. “I’m sure anyone will tell you when they’re having a bet they’re not expecting any return. When that money is down, the money is gone and that’s what happens most of the time.”

The wager was reported to have been placed with Bet365 but it will not discuss details.

Conor said: “A few of the lads knew that I had the bet on and they were all ringing me so I said I’d better ring the mother before she found out off someone else.

“I rang her and said, ‘Mum, I presume you’ve heard about me’? ‘No, she replied’, ‘well I’ve won a few quid’ I told her.

Conor’s background is steeped in horse racing and though he played soccer with Riverside Athletic, as well as GAA with St Mary’s, it became clear from an early age, when he accompanied his late father and uncle, as well as his grandfather to races, that the sport was for him.

After completing his Leaving Certificate in St Brogan’s College, Bandon, he enrolled in a six-month thoroughbred breeding course in Kildare and from there, was awarded a scholarship to Britain, where he first came in contact with Nicky Henderson.

Though he took a sabbatical from 2005-2008 when he went to the US, he returned to Henderson’s yard in 2008 and he’s been there since.

Henderson said of his loyal employee: “Conor is in work this morning — he is one of the linchpins here. He’s the most lovely man though, a fantastic guy and very quiet.”

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