Oisin Murphy is not afraid to celebrate on the big occasion and should Roaring Lion land the Investec Derby on Saturday, plenty more joyous scenes can be expected.
For a rider normally quiet and reserved, the 22-year-old demonstrated last year with his victories on Benbatl at Royal Ascot - his first at the showpiece meeting - and on Lightning Spear in the Celebration Mile at Goodwood, that he can mark his milestone moments in style.
And victory aboard the John Gosden-trained colt in the Epsom Classic would top everything.
Lambourn-based Murphy said: “I suppose I don’t ever get excited about too many races, but I’m thrilled to be riding Roaring Lion and going into the Derby with a live chance, as these horses are hard to find.
“I’ve ridden in the Derby a few times now and I was fifth on Benbatl and I had a good experience on Red Galileo. This lad, though, looks like he has a decent chance.
“You don’t get many opportunities at winning these sort of races, so to have a big chance is great.
After suffering defeats in the Craven and 2000 Guineas, the son of Kitten’s Joy showed his true colours with victory in the Dante, a race both of Gosden’s previous Derby winners, Benny The Dip (1997) and Golden Horn in (2015), took en route to triumphing at Epsom.
While the mile-and-a-half trip remains the one unknown for the Qatar Racing-owned colt, Murphy is optimistic it should prove within his reach given the manner of his success at York.
Murphy said: “His run in the Dante was very impressive. He is a very well balanced horse and I think he should go round Epsom no problem.
“The Dante was a different style of race. The pace was slower and I was able to really come through the gears and obviously York was around the turn and it was his first time around a bend on grass. He handled all that very well. I think that style of race suits him.
“In the Craven and the Guineas it was a much faster, stronger pace. He felt a very good horse at York and very professional horse and that’s exciting.
“He is quite a laid-back horse and he certainly proved that at York and that is a huge positive for Epsom.
“It was the Roaring Lion we were hoping to see. He was very impressive last year for a big, raw horse and we always thought he would be a better three-year-old.
“So realistically his form from last year is very strong and he probably ran to that in the Dante.
“The Derby will be a stronger race and nobody knows if he will stay 12 furlongs, but personally I think there is every chance he will.
“There are absolutely no guarantees he will stay it, but his temperament and the fact he relaxes helps, and on pedigree many of Kitten’s Joy stay 12 (furlongs), like Hawkbill, so that is certainly another plus.
“You also never really sure how he will handle the occasion, as it’s a completely different atmosphere to what he has experienced, but he has had a few big days out and I’d be very hopeful he would handle it.”
Roaring Lion finished behind ante-post favourite Saxon Warrior in both the Racing Post Trophy and 2000 Guineas and while Murphy fully respects the Aidan O’Brien-trained colt, he feels it is more than just a one-horse contest.
He said: “Wouldn’t it be lovely to beat Saxon Warrior and if ever there was a race to do it in, this would be the race. It is really something to look forward to.
“Certainly on form Saxon Warrior looks the horse to beat, but Young Rascal won well at Chester and could run a big race.
“Hazapour did OK in his trial, he will need to step up a bit, but Dermot Weld knows how to win the Derby for the Aga Khan, so it’s not a one-or two-horse race by any means.
“I think Roaring Lion deserves another shot at a Classic.”
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