Life and Times of Conor Murphy

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.

Early Years

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.