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Hoof times Champion jockey Oisin Murphy reveals he almost quit racing after three-month drugs ban

"There was a medical hearing and they absolved me of taking cocaine myself, and then you have your actual hearing in another couple of weeks," he explained.

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Oisín Murphy is crowned champion jockey

Oisín Murphy is crowned champion jockey

Oisín Murphy is crowned champion jockey

Champion jockey Oisin Murphy has told how he almost quit racing in the wake of a three-month drug ban he received last year. 

Murphy was banned for three months in November after the test, taken at Chantilly in July, found traces of cocaine in his system.

As he considered his future in racing after being banned he considered giving up race riding.

"I felt like the world had turned against me, over something I didn't really mean to happen," Murphy told My Sporting Mind's podcast presenter Charlie Webster.

"I probably spent a couple of weeks thinking about what I should do and when I say 'I wouldn't get back on a horse', I'd obviously go riding on the roads and watch show jumping and ride as a hobby, but whether I wanted to race-ride again is something I wasn't entirely comfortable with.

"That's something I haven't really touched on before, certainly not publicly.

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Oisín Murphy after winning the Teentech Noel Murless Stakes on Berkshire Rocco at Ascot

Oisín Murphy after winning the Teentech Noel Murless Stakes on Berkshire Rocco at Ascot

Oisín Murphy after winning the Teentech Noel Murless Stakes on Berkshire Rocco at Ascot

"When I went to America [for the Breeders' Cup] I was hoping I'd done enough to win the Jockeys' Championship and by the time I rode in my last race, I wasn't quite sure if I wanted to ride again.

"Or I wasn't sure where or when I wanted to race-ride again."

His initial six-month suspension was reduced to three following a semi-successful appeal, and he will be back in the saddle on March 11.

However, he revealed how he struggled mentally heading into the autumn as performances declined while he awaited news of his fate.

"There was a medical hearing and they absolved me of taking cocaine myself, and then you have your actual hearing in another couple of weeks," he explained.

"I was obviously pleased not to get my full sentence of six months - I was a bit disappointed not to get zero - but they gave me three, and I thanked them for considering my case.

"I didn't ride very well in August and as a result of that my confidence and my whole outlook took a dip as well.

"I remember not sleeping for days on end, I might get an hour here and there then wake up. Your mood changes and declines. People tell you the best thing to do is speak and voice your thoughts, but sometimes you're not in the mood to speak to anyone.

"One thing that got me going again was watching lots of motivational videos on YouTube, lots of celebrity ones too including Denzel Washington. They can really get you in the mood and get you out of bed.

"I stopped feeling sorry for myself and got through August and I won a Group One in September, my strike-rate improved to above 20%."

Murphy credits Frankie Dettori as one of a number of racing figures whose support never wavered, alongside that of the Qatar Racing team and Andrew Balding.

“He keeps telling me not to go off the rails,” he said of Dettori.

“People were worried and he was one of them, my employers and lots of people, even now I get text messages from people just checking that I haven’t done anything stupid and I haven’t been drinking excessively or anything.”

While Murphy will return in early March, it is Dubai’s World Cup meeting on March 27 that he has set his eyes on as his first major engagement since the suspension.

“For people who are really interested in (Flat) racing, March isn’t a very exciting month apart from Dubai World Cup night, but I’ve picked up some super rides from the Japanese there,” he explained.

“That’s a really welcome surprise, I wasn’t expecting anything there.”

“I’m in top spirits, but I need to achieve again, he added, “I can’t just roll back into the jockeys’ room and go around riding five horses a day and maybe winning on one.

“If I make it my intention to come back, then I really have to do well.

“Now it’s the chance to come back and try to prove myself to people again and say ‘Don’t write me off, please. Give me another chance’.”

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