By Jon Lees
GB: Oisin Murphy has secured his first big-race mount ahead of next month’s return from a three-month cocaine ban with news that he has been booked to ride Japanese Classic winner Loves Only You in the G1 Dubai Sheema Classic on Dubai World Cup night.
“I am really pleased to get that opportunity,” said Britain’s reigning champion jockey as he considered the high-profile card at Meydan on March 27. “She goes there off the back of a Group 2 win,” he added.
Murphy, who strenuously denies taking cocaine, was suspended in November last year by stewards in France following a positive test for metabolites of the recreational drug, a sentence that began on December 11 and ends on March 11.
He received a sentence shorter than the six-month ban usually imposed for similar offences in France 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.
Loves Only You, a five-year-old daughter of Deep Impact, has won five of her 11 starts, capturing the Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks) in 2019 and landing the G2 Kyoto Kinen on her first start of the year seven days ago. She is being prepared by Yoshito Yahagi, trainer of 2020 Japanese Triple Crown winner Contrail.
Until his ban Murphy had spent the previous two winters riding in Japan, riding 68 winners, which included victory on Suave Richard in the 2019 running of the Japan Cup, Japan’s most prestigious race.
• Visit the Japan Racing Association website