Tributes are pouring in for Cheltenham Festival winning racehorse trainer, Ferdy Murphy, (70), a native of Forrestalstown, Clonroche, who passed away today at his home in Sennones, The Loire Valley in France.
Murphy became one of the leading powers in northern jumping from his base in North Yorkshire and was responsible for a dozen Cheltenham Festival winners and was hailed as a “genius” and “hero” in the world of National Hunt racing.
As a young jockey, Murphy learned his saddle skills under Phonsie O’Brien and Paddy Mullins before beginning a spell training for owner Bill Durkan, in whose name the horses raced. Much the best and most famous of them was the brilliant front-runner Anaglogs Daughter, who demolished the 1980 Arkle Chase field at Cheltenham before winning four days later at Chepstow when ridden by Murphy.
Murphy began training in his own name from 1990 and one of his biggest early days came with Sibton Abbey in the 1992 Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup ridden by Adrian Maguire.
Murphy was one of the first British-based trainers to recognise the potential of Davy Russell, bringing him across from Ireland to be stable jockey, and the rider said: “He was a brilliant man who was very loyal. He was a huge part of moulding my career and if it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t be where I am today. I rode some lovely horses for him and he was a very good trainer but at the back of it all he was a great gentleman.”
Murphy won the Irish Grand National, three Scottish Nationals, a Paddy Power Gold Cup and Long Walk Hurdle, as well as having Truckers Tavern finish second in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, before ceasing training in Britain after the 2013-14 season.
His son, Paul Murphy said; “He was a very outspoken man who wasn’t afraid to wear his heart on his sleeve. He had a four-year-long battle with cancer but that was after he had initially been given three weeks to live. That just shows you what a strong man he was.
“He didn’t have a bad quality [of life] over those four years as he only really got sick two months ago. He died with his family around him. We’ll have a small funeral here in France and then we’ll bring his remains back to Ireland for a proper funeral on a date to be decided.”
FAMILY NOTICE ; FERDY MURPHY, Sennones, The Loire Valley, France, late of Westwitton, North Yorkshire and formerly Forrestalstown Stud, Clonroche. Beloved partner of Janet Morgan and father of Barry, Caroline, Paul, Zoe and Rees. Will be sadly missed by his loving family and many friends. RIP. Funeral Mass will take place in St. Clement’s Church, Cloughbawn, Clonroche, on Thursday, September 12th at 12 noon followed by burial of ashes in adjoining cemetery.