Oisin Murphy's failed breath test unlikely to threaten title aspirations

Oisin Murphy's failed breath test is understood to have fallen well within the BHA's 'lower level' for the offence, in which case the matter is likely to be fast-tracked for resolution without a disciplinary hearing and without further penalty.

The level is not put into the public domain until the hearing or the conclusion of proceedings, and Murphy declined to comment directly, but the Racing Post understands that the reading was "well under the drink driving limit" (35 micrograms per 100 millilitres), in which case it will be comfortably within the BHA's lower threshold of between 20 and 38 micrograms.

Murphy's failed alcohol test came at Salisbury on Sunday, just hours after he had appeared on Racing TV's Luck On Sunday programme and given a lucid and eloquent appraisal of how well his season had gone so far and how much he was looking forward to Royal Ascot.

Murphy, whose six rides on day one of the royal meeting include the fancied Guildsman for his boss Sheikh Fahad's Qatar Racing in the Coventry Stakes, was stood down for the day and a report has been forwarded by the stewards to the BHA's disciplinary team at High Holborn, who will compile the relevant evidence around the case.

If Murphy's failed breath test does fall in the lower limit, the entry point is a caution, with the rider stood down for the day – which has already happened – and the damage is likely to be only reputational, as it was for Charles Bishop when he failed a test at Royal Ascot a year ago at the end of a week in which he gained his first Group 1 success on Accidental Agent in the Queen Anne Stakes.

Murphy can therefore hope the matter soon blows over, as it did for Bishop, although even so-called 'fast-tracked' cases tend to spend months in the system.

A 'higher level' offence of 39 micrograms or more carries severe penalties, even for a first offence, with the entry level being 40 days out, and the recommended range 28 to 60 days. That would almost certainly have threatened Murphy's bid for a first jockeys' title in which he led reigning champion Silvestre de Sousa by 47 wins to 38 before racing on Monday evening.