Those in attendance at Newmarket on Saturday may have been few and far between – but that failed to stop Oisin Murphy from celebrating his first Classic victory aboard Kameko in the Qipco 2000 Guineas.
Instead of a crowd in its thousands welcoming him back to the Rowley Mile’s hallowed winner’s enclosure, Murphy had to make do with a ripple of applause from a number that barely reached three figures in the aftermath of the biggest success of his career.
Not that such a scene bothered the champion jockey though, with several air punches thrown following an almighty shout the moment he crossed the line in recognition of his landmark success, which inflicted defeat upon the Charlie Appleby-trained Pinatubo for the first time.
Murphy said: “It is an incredible feeling and I can’t put it into words. For Andrew Balding, for Sheikh Fahad – these are the people I started with. He is a son of Kitten’s Joy, who is the same sire of Roaring Lion who was special to me.
“When we are in a race, having no crowd there doesn’t affect us, it is just when we pull up. The only two people shouting at that point you could hear was Frankie Dettori (rider of runner-up Wichita) and me. He was shouting at me and I don’t know who I was shouting at!
“It was massive and a day I won’t forget. When I look back at this in a few years’ time I won’t remember there was no crowd it will just be Kameko winning the 2000 Guineas for Qatar Racing and Andrew Balding.
“It is the biggest winner of my career and for all the right reasons.”
As one of just two previous Group One winners in the field, Kameko arguably had less to prove than many of his rivals, but even so things still needed to go smoothly and thankfully for Murphy they did.
He said: “It was a very tough race. Don’t take anything away from what he has achieved today, it was an incredible performance. With the draw being 15 and the stalls being stands side, I was afraid of not getting a clear run but after going a furlong I was behind Arizona who I thought was one of the better horses in the race.
“Rolling into the dip I still hadn’t gone for him and I could see that the others were in my sights. When he started moving through the gears coming out of the dip and really putting his head out I knew he could win.”
Few relationships between jockey and owner are more solid than the one Murphy enjoys with Qatar Racing supremo Sheikh Fahad, something in his eyes that makes the achievement more special.
He said: “I had my first ride for Sheikh Fahad in 2012 so it has been nearly eight years together in some form or other. He leaves it up to me and so does Andrew. I feel very privileged.
“Sheikh Fahad has only ridden in charity races, but he understands that racing doesn’t always go right. He truly understands the game. He lives and breathes horse racing. I was with him this morning, but he knew I had a plan and he had faith in me to deliver it and that is a special thing to have.”
Though Murphy – who picked up a two-day whip ban in his winning effort – would not go as far as saying an outing in the Investec Derby at Epsom on July 4 would be next up for Kameko, the 24-year-old believes he would have no problems handling the track if that is the route connections decide to take.
He said: “I honestly can’t answer if he would go to the Derby for a week or so. Although he marched in as proud as he could, we don’t know how much this has taken out of him and it is another half a mile than he has raced today.
“Horses that handle Epsom have to do it on the bridle and he wouldn’t come off the bit until round Tattenham Corner, when he is either not going to stay or stay, so he would have no problem with the track. I do think the horse will just improve and improve.”
Ever the ultimate professional there was nothing fancy planned for Murphy on Saturday evening, with his focus fixed on trying to make it a weekend to remember by adding a first 1000 Guineas victory to his name aboard the Jessica Harrington-trained Millisle.
He said: “I’m staying with Sheikh Fahad so I’m going back there tonight, but I’ve got Millisle tomorrow and she has an equally good chance in the 1000 Guineas so I want to give her 110 per cent.
“I think it will be just a case of having a nice dinner which could be mussels, but I need to ring the chef.”