Oisin Murphy is eager to make up for lost time as the season moves towards one of its busiest periods.
The 27-year-old made a blistering return from a 14-month suspension in the early part of the campaign, picking up the 1000 Guineas on Mawj and striking gold at Royal Ascot aboard Shaquille in the Commonwealth Cup.
However, it was Ascot which led to a return to the sidelines for Murphy, with the Irishman accumulating five days of suspensions for careless riding and also picking up an eight-day ban for a whip offence aboard runner-up Valiant King in the King George V Stakes.
Murphy’s enforced absence coincided with Shaquille’s fantastic July Cup triumph during Newmarket’s July Festival, but rather than dwell on missing out on partnering Julie Camacho’s superstar speedster, he kept himself busy by riding out and in the showjumping ring as he tunes up for some key months of the campaign.
“I filled my time with showjumping and I was riding out a lot,” explained Murphy. “But at the same time I do love race riding and I’m delighted to be back.
“I jumped a lot and had a good few lessons. I always want to be a better showjumper, but I only get to train sporadically so it’s quite hard to improve.
“There’s a lot of good racing coming up. That was my first whip infringement and I hope it will be my last because the penalties are severe.”
Having got on the scoresheet at Leicester on his first day back in the saddle, Murphy is now keen to build up his confidence ahead of the Qatar Goodwood Festival which is always a major week for Qatar Racing’s retained rider.
He will also get the chance to reunite with Gold Cup runner-up Coltrane in the Al Shaqab Goodwood Cup Stakes, with Andrew Balding’s stayer now one of the leading players in the top races over marathon distances.
“Hopefully I can just roll away and get my confidence up and look ahead to those big races coming up,” added Murphy.
“In bygone years I have had favourites for the Sussex Stakes and the Nassau at Goodwood and I probably won’t be in that position this time, but it is still an important meeting to try to do well there.
“There’s Coltrane in the Goodwood Cup. He’s been fantastic since Ascot. I don’t really ride him at home, he has the same rider, Chris, all the time. I saw him the other day and he looked great, he seems to have held his condition really well and Andrew is really happy.”
As well as Goodwood, there are also big meetings at Ascot, York and Deauville on the horizon and Murphy is relishing the opportunity to link up with David Menuisier’s impressive Sandown winner Sunway when he continues his racing education later this summer.
He said: “There’s a colt of David Menuisier’s called Sunway, who has come out of his race at Sandown well and he could be off to Ascot or Deauville I think.
“It’s great to probably have him to ride. He looks a very nice horse.”