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National hero Murphy relishing Rosallion’s bid for 2000 Guineas glory

National hero Murphy relishing Rosallion’s bid for 2000 Guineas glory
National hero Murphy relishing Rosallion’s bid for 2000 Guineas glory

Timmy Murphy is no stranger to being centre of attention, enjoying success on the big stage. But he could now cut a proud figure from his sofa if Rosallion downs City Of Troy in Saturday’s Qipco 2000 Guineas.

Richard Hannon has made no secret of the regard in which he holds Rosallion, but it is perhaps the former jockey who knows Britain’s main hope for the opening Classic of the summer best and the man with the pleasure of putting the son of Blue Point through his paces at Hannon’s Everleigh base.

Murphy rode over 1,000 winners in Britain during his time in the saddle, returning to the Cheltenham Festival winner’s enclosure eight times and perhaps enjoying his finest hour aboard Comply Or Die in the 2008 Grand National.

Timmy Murphy kisses the Grand National trophy
Timmy Murphy kisses the Grand National trophy (Peter Byrne/PA)

However, the 49-year-old has been happy to play a low-key role since his retirement in 2018 and is now content to take a back seat and enjoy his behind-the-scenes position with Rosallion from afar.

Murphy said: “I won’t be there on Saturday, I’ll watch him on the television. He won’t be running any faster because I’m there.

“It’s different to being a jockey where you turn up on the day, do what you do and enjoy your success. But when you’re involved with him day in, day out, it’s pretty satisfying when you see them strut their stuff on the track.”

Rosallion’s talent has been obvious from an early stage, starting off like so many of Hannon’s best alumni at Newbury before blitzing the opposition to claim Listed honours on just his second start at Ascot.

That Pat Eddery Stakes success saw him sent off odds-on for the Champagne Stakes, but it was Doncaster disappointment on that September day as he could only finish third on the soft Town Moor going.

If not a case of bubble burst, there were a few moments of soul-searching for Hannon, whose assertions Rosallion was the real deal faced their first serious test.

He need not have worried as the old adage of form is temporary, class is permanent rang true just two weeks later in Paris, with the colt reigniting Classic dreams with a bloodless display in the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere.

Now those Classic hopes and dreams are ready to be put to the test, with Murphy expecting Rosallion’s temperament to prove the trump card as the “cool kid” of Wiltshire faces his date with destiny.

He said: “He’s a very straightforward horse who has no issues. He’s very honest, he has a great temperament and he’s just so straightforward so my job is really easy.

“My only instructions when I got on him was to mind him – ride him properly, getting him using himself and keep him safe.

“His main quality is his temperament, nothing fazes him and he’s just like a cool kid who takes everything in his stride. He wouldn’t be bothered by the big day – he’s just a professional.”

Not only is Hannon certain on the talent that Rosallion possesses, he has no doubt about the importance Murphy has played in his development from precocious two-year-old to leading Classic contender.

“Timmy rides him every day and has done a fantastic job,” said Hannon.

“He can be a little bit keen and Timmy is one of those who is a horseman’s horseman. He looks after him every day and he has no interest finding out how good he is.

“He rode him last year and has been absolutely instrumental in the horse’s preparation.”

Victory would be the perfect way for Hannon to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of Night Of Thunder’s shock victory over Kingman in the 2014 2000 Guineas.

Night of Thunder (left) caused a shock in the 2014 2000 Guineas
Night of Thunder (left) caused a shock in the 2014 2000 Guineas (Steve Parsons/PA)

That was Hannon’s first Classic victory in the very first season after taking over the licence from his decorated father Richard Hannon Snr and he would go on to add the fillies’ equivalent with Billesdon Brook in 2018.

However, both were far from fancied and having foregone taking Rosallion to one of the early-season trials, Hannon is hoping to strike with a horse he feels could be the best to ever set foot in his family’s historic stables.

“Night Of Thunder was 40-1, Billesdon Brook was 66-1, so it would be nice to win a Guineas with one I think could win,” he said.

“I’ve been very happy with him. It was going to be soft ground at both Newmarket and Newbury and it would not quite have been a rush to get him to a trial, but I would rather make sure everything is right for Guineas day.

Richard Hannon has always held Rosallion in the highest regard
Richard Hannon has always held Rosallion in the highest regard (Mike Egerton/PA)

“I’m capable of getting them beat in a trial then winning the Guineas. But we’ve done loads with him and he will go there as fit as a fiddle. He’ll be fit enough, it’s just if he’s good enough.

“We’re very happy with him and his preparation has been pretty much unhindered by anything.”

The fly in the ointment to any coronation of Rosallion at Newmarket comes in the form of a certain City Of Troy, Aidan O’Brien’s all-conquering two-year-old who answered every question with interest throughout the 2023 season.

He is the only horse ahead of Rosallion in the Guineas market and despite him proving a potential spanner in Hannon’s grand plan, both trainer and work rider retain full belief in the hand they possess.

Rosallion will take on City Of Troy at Newmarket
Rosallion will take on City Of Troy at Newmarket (Adam Davy/PA)

Hannon said: “He’s already a Group One winner, so I’m pretty much convinced he is the horse I think he is. But these Irish come over and they can get in the way sometimes.

“City Of Troy looks a very good horse, but I’m hoping mine is and I’m looking forward to the Guineas as much as anyone and if he gets beat, we’ll just have to pick ourselves up and move on to the next one.”

Murphy added: “His form is really solid, but nobody will know until the day basically.

“Two-year-olds can improve or disimprove as a three-year-old and who knows really. We couldn’t be any happier with Rosallion though, physically he has done well, his work is very good and we go there very happy.”

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