Oisin Murphy to miss the Craven meeting after whip ban

Oisin Murphy, who missed plenty of March through suspension, will not be in action during Newmarket's Craven meeting this month after picking up a six-day whip ban.

Murphy, a three-time champion jockey, spent much of last month on the sidelines after four separate suspensions and his ride on Vaguely Royal in a valuable handicap at Newcastle on Friday was in breach.

Riding for owner-breeder Bjorn Nielsen and trainers John and Thady Gosden, Murphy finished five and a half lengths behind the winner in fifth and revealed on X he had used his whip too many times on the gelding, who earned connections £4,530.

"I've picked up a six-day suspension for one strike too many on Vaguely Royal on Good Friday when finishing fifth in the Marathon at Newcastle," he posted. "This was a genuine mistake and I didn't purposely use my whip once more than permitted.

"As the race was worth £150,000 total prize-money, my suspension should have been eight days, but the fact I've not been suspended for a whip breach in over 200 rides, it's been reduced by two days. 

"Had I committed the same breach in the Listed Burradon Stakes on the card when finishing a narrowly beaten second [on Sayedaty Sadaty], I would be facing a two-day ban.

"I will miss April 12, 13, 15, 16, 17 and 18. The entire Craven meeting at Newmarket. I will endeavour not to fall foul of these whip rules as the penalties are costly."

Newmarket's three-day Craven fixture, which starts on April 16, is seen as the point when the British Flat season cranks up a notch.

As well as the bet365-backed Craven, a trial for the Qipco 2,000 Guineas, which Murphy memorably won during Covid on Kameko in 2020, it features the Lanwades Stud Nell Gwyn Stakes, which can be a pointer to the Qipco 1,000 Guineas.

The 28-year-old, who captured that race last year on the Saeed bin Suroor-trained Mawj, will also miss the Craven meeting's bet365 Earl of Sefton Stakes and the Connaught Access Flooring Abernant Stakes.

His ban, however, is not set to affect his participation in some of France's Classic trials. He is due to partner Sunway, on whom he won the Group 1 Criterium International at Saint-Cloud last term, in Longchamp's Prix de la Force on Sunday.

He is trained in Sussex by David Menuisier, who is then due to field last year's Group 1 Futurity second Devil's Point in the Prix Djebel at Deauville next Tuesday.

"We weren't going to go to the Craven with Devil's Point anyway and the plan is France next week," Menuisier said.

"The Djebel has been the aim since probably January and it makes sense to start there over seven furlongs on a nice, flat track like Deauville. He's had a really good winter and feels great.

"Jamie Spencer knows the horse well, but Oisin is kind of the main, go-to man at the moment, so I'm glad he's likely to be available to ride. He's a former champion jockey who is very good with feedback and is a very sympathetic rider. He rides for the future and is a real team player."

Of Sunway, the trainer added: "I think he's likely to run this weekend and it's very likely Oisin rides because the horse is owned in partnership with Qatar Racing [owners who retain Murphy's services].

"I'm delighted with him. He's had a good winter, like Devil's Point, and is full of beans. I don't mind starting over nine furlongs because I think it will suit, but, if we had to go back to a mile and run in the 2,000 Guineas or Poule d'Essai des Poulains, that wouldn't be a problem. The ground is soft, which will also suit, so all the lights are green and we were delighted with him in a recent racecourse gallop."

Like Murphy, David Egan will miss the Craven meeting after he was banned for four days (April 16-19) on Tuesday for using his whip in the incorrect place on the Lincoln winner Mr Professor, while that suspension was also dished out to Derek Fox, who rides the Randox Grand National favourite Corach Rambler next week, for going over the limit on Clovis Boy in a race at Newcastle.