Murphy devoted his life to working with horses and it was his passion and understanding of them that helped him overcome the racetrack. In reflection to his horseracing victory, Murphy said, "This is mine: my business and my dream. I have worked for this since I was a lad."
Murphy, who had only betting a handful of times prior to this event made the bet of a lifetime on five different horses that he had worked with personally. It was obvious when the result of the races came out that day, that Murphy was one of the luckiest men alive.
Murphy's father was the first person who sparked his interest in horse racing, as he had trained and raced horses in his hometown of Cork, Ireland. Murphy had dreamed of being a jockey when he was younger, but his dreams were crushed when he grew to be over six-feet tall.
Murphy still wanted to work with horses, so he decided to instead focus on the care and conditioning of racehorses instead. He worked in different training centers in both Ireland and England, usually working with steeplechase horses that race on the National Hunt circuit. When he was in his mid twenties, he came to Kentucky to work on thoroughbreds with Niall O'Callaghan and David Carroll, fellow Irishmen who specialized in American racing.
He enjoyed working with them, but he was offered a job of an opportunity working for Nicky Henderson, one of England's most renowned National Hunt trainers. Murphy returned to England to work at Mr. Henderson's training center near Lambourn, which is near London. His responsibilities included galloping racehorses for exercise, combing manes, and shoveling manure. It was a luxurious job and it didn't pay substantially, but Murphy enjoyed it nonetheless.
Murphy didn't bet on horses too often, unless he saw a good opportunity. In December 2011, he thought that five horses he had been working with in Mr. Henderson's stable were training exceptionally well and all five of them were scheduled to run at the Cheltenham Festival in Gloucestershire the following year. Murphy decided to place a $75 accumulator bet on all five horses, even though the odds were clearly against him: Bobs Worth (10-1), Finian's Rainbow (8-1) Riverside Theatre (9-1), Simonsig (14-1), and Sprinter Sacre (10-1).
When the Cheltenham Festival arrived, Murphy was particularly interested in Finian's Rainbow, as he had worked closely beside him the last few months, riding him almost every day. Finian's Rainbow had made two previous appearances at Cheltenham but hadn't managed to win either time. "I'd been involved with the horse for four years and always believed that he was a great horse," Murphy said in an interview with the New York Times.
Not only did Finian's Rainbow earn the title as the Queen Mother Champion Chase winner, but all five horses that Murphy bet on placed first in their events. Murphy was so excited for the horses that he almost forgot that he had placed a bet on them.
Life After Racetrack Victory
The probability that all five horses he selected would win was nearly impossible, but luck was certainly on Murphy's side that day on the track, as his $75 turned into more than $1.5 million, allowing him to quit his current job and become his own boss. Even after his huge win, Murphy was back at work as usual at 5am the next morning, not fully processing what had happened to him.
Murphy moved to Kentucky almost immediately after his big win to train horses for some of the most prominent jockeys in racing. Prior to his move, he purchased three modestly priced horses in England: Dimension, Bronterre, and Mon Ami Jolie.
Murphy also bought a humble cottage on the outskirts of Louisville, which he was able to pay for in cash thanks to his latest victory. He leased a barn at the Skylight Training Center where he keeps the majority of his racehorses. Today, he has twenty five horses in total that he's responsible for training and he prefers to add more 2-year-old thoroughbreds that are just starting their racing careers in the near future.
Author: Nicole Miller
Updated: October 2016
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