Oisin Murphy expects to face a real battle in his bid to secure back-to-back British Flat jockeys’ championships this year.
The title holder feels nothing but his best will suffice if he is to retain the crown he claimed for the first time in his career in 2019.
Although the Kerryman is odds-on favourite with bookmakers to do so, he is taking nothing for granted.
He said: “I’d love to be champion jockey again. Whether that is realistic or not, I’m going to try to give it my all.
“I don’t look at myself as champion jockey as we are in the new year now and there are lots of young jockeys coming through that want to be champion.
“I’m lucky to have so many stables behind me, but the most important thing is to keep the people I’m riding for happy, then I will have a good year if I do that.
“If I can win it again it would be great, but it is not going to be an easy task.”
Murphy believes there are at least half a dozen jockeys in contention for the crown this year.
He said: “I see the likes of Tom Marquand and Ben Curtis joining the likes of Silvestre de Sousa and Danny Tudhope in being thereabouts.
“James Doyle, William Buick and Andrea Atzeni are also riding at the highest level and if they wanted to go for the championship, I’m sure they would have a good chance.”
Murphy has recently enjoyed a successful spell riding in Japan, during which time he recorded Grade One glory in the Japan Cup aboard Suave Richard, along with celebrating a six-timer at Nakayama racecourse.
Murphy said: “Winning the Japan Cup aboard Suave Richard was brilliant and the riding the six-timer was a great experience.
“I thought I had a chance in the Japan Cup, but you never really dream about winning a race of that calibre so that was super.
“I get very excited about winning on maidens, as you are always thinking about the future and I rode lots of nice horses for the future out there.
“Satano Flag is possibly one to look out for and he could be a real (Japanese) Derby contender that is by Deep Impact, and I also rode a full-sister to Gentildonna – they are the horses I live and breathe for.”
Having enjoyed a productive winter in Japan, the Royal Ascot-winning rider hopes he can achieve the results required on the track over the summer in Europe to get another invite at the end of the year.
Murphy added: “I’d love to go out there every year, but I need to qualify every year.
“The criteria is quite strict and there is only space for five foreign jockeys at any one time, so I need to keep achieving big results.
“I think the Flat championship has a bearing on it, but they look at the top 100 Group Ones as well, so I need to do well in those races.”
Gaining a first British Classic victory is high on the priority list for Murphy in 2020 – and the Andrew Balding-trained Vertem Futurity Trophy winner Kameko could be the one to deliver that breakthrough success.
Murphy said: “I dream every year about winning a British Classic and I’m sure Andrew Balding and Sheikh Fahad will keep dreaming as well.
“The Guineas and Derby are still a long way off, but hopefully he can stay sound and healthy to have a proper bash at them.
“I feel 10 furlongs is possibly going to be his ideal distance, but he has a lot of pace.
“Both him and Pinatubo are similar in shape and stature, as neither are huge, big horses, but are agile and good movers, so it will be interesting in the Guineas.”