Leading flat jockey Oisin Murphy was stood down by the stewards at Salisbury Racecourse on Sunday having failed a breath test.

Murphy, the jockeys’ championship leader, is due to ride a number of high-profile horses at this week’s Royal Ascot and has been steadily building his immense popularity due to his mild and positive manner, as well as his association with Horse of the Year Roaring Lion on which he won four Group 1 races last year.

The Killarney man had expressed his wish at the start of the year to become champion jockey and had been working incredibly hard towards that goal.  In prolific form in recent days and weeks, Murphy had notched a total of 47 winners for the season and sat 10 wins ahead of Silvestre de Sousa in the Stobart-sponsored championship before heading to Salisbury to take up more prominent rides.

Breath Test Failure

With five rides booked at the track, Murphy was subjected to a breath test along with several other jockeys at Salisbury and was found to have failed, the stewards therefore standing him down and preventing him from taking his intended mounts.

The test failure was reported by the clerk of the scales with he, the sampling officer and Murphy himself all having interviewed afterwards.  The matter was then referred to the head office of the British Racing Authority (BHA) with the rider suspended for the rest of the day.

Concerns About Murphy’s Royal Ascot Participation

With the news coming only two days before the start of Royal Ascot, the result must have been a shock for Murphy though it’s unclear as yet whether or not he will be punished sufficiently to prevent him riding at flat racing’s showpiece meeting.

His initial suspension only covered the rides he was due to take at Salisbury, though the BHA of course retain powers to take other punitive measure if they feel it is necessary.

Earlier on Sunday, Murphy had appeared on Racing TV and didn’t appear to show any ill signs.  It’s unclear whether his failed sample is as a result of alcohol having remained in his system from Saturday evening, of so this would go a long way towards authorities clearing him to take his rides at the Royal meeting.

While the star rider is due to begin the meeting in relatively low-key fashion on a 25/1 shot, Matterhorn, he is due to take the ride for his bosses at Qatar Racing in the Coventry Stakes aboard 7/1 shot Guildsman while he also has mounts in the King’s Stand Stakes, St James’s Palace Stakes, Ascot Stakes and Wolferton Stakes.