By Jon Lees
Japan: Britain’s champion jockey Oisin Murphy has sent a message to supporters in Japan expressing the hope he can return to ride there again in the future after his French cocaine ban.
Murphy has spent part of his last two winters riding on the Japan Racing Association circuit, enjoying tremendous success. He has ridden 68 winners on previous spells with a short-term licence, which include victory on Suave Richard last year in the Japan Cup, Japan’s most prestigious race.
Although the jockey strenuously denies taking cocaine, on Friday he was suspended for three months by France Galop after a positive urine test for metabolites of the drug.
Murphy received a sentence shorter than the six-month ban usually imposed for similar offences after providing hair test analysis and claiming that he had been contaminated by having sex with a person he later discovered to be a user.
Murphy is suspended from December 11 until March 11 2021, covering a period when he had hoped to be riding in Japan again.
“I love Japan,” he said in a message written in Japanese, which he posted on both his Twitter account and his personal website.
“When I go to Japan, I learn a lot from the generous support of the owners, trainers, and other people involved, and the heartfelt cheers of Japanese horse racing fans every time. There is something that touches my heart. I hope that I will be able to ride at the JRA again in the near-future.”
Murphy, 25, champion jockey for the last two years in Britain, last visited Japan in January when he cemented his status as a fan favourite by riding 27 winners during a one month stint.
He first visited in December 2018 and has been sponsored by Almond Eye’s trainer Sakae Kunieda each time.
He is likely to have to wait at least another 12 months for his next chance to visit the country since the JRA has in the past taken a hardline approach to breaches involving recreational drugs.
“I will do my best to be able to return to you in a better condition than ever before,” the jockey added. “I would like to set my goal on the international stage of the 2021 Dubai World Cup and concentrate on what I should do without being shaken. Until we can meet again, please take care of yourself.”