Racing: Murphy handed Best Mate honour

The rehabilitation of Timmy Murphy continued yesterday morning when he was chosen over Tony McCoy to replace injured Jim Culloty on Best Mate when the triple Gold Cup hero makes his seasonal debut at Exeter on Friday.

The rehabilitation of Timmy Murphy continued yesterday morning when he was chosen over Tony McCoy to replace injured Jim Culloty on Best Mate when the triple Gold Cup hero makes his seasonal debut at Exeter on Friday. And it turned out to be a decision made by trainer Henrietta Knight and owner Jim Lewis with almost spooky prescience, for a few hours after being given the thumbs down, McCoy hurt one of those very digits in a freak incident before the opening race at Folkestone, and faces a while off games.

Murphy first; and he, too, seems to have adopted something of the mystic tag. On Saturday, after having consolidated his position as the main man with Martin Pipe with four high-profile winners on the best afternoon of his career, the man from Co Wexford voiced, with growing assuredness, the notion that some horses might be suited better by his lighter touch, a velvet glove over the iron fist, than by McCoy's forcing ways. Knight and Lewis have come to the same conclusion where Best Mate is concerned.

"We weighed up the pros and cons," said Knight. "Obviously, Mr Lewis has a lot of loyalty to Tony McCoy, who has ridden winners for him in the past. But we decided that Timmy Murphy's style of riding would suit the horse better."

Friday will be the first time that Best Mate will have been ridden in public by anyone but Culloty or McCoy since his days as an Irish point-to-pointer. The cool, patient approach that is Murphy's trademark, and was shown to excellent effect on Celestial Gold in the Paddy Power Gold Cup and on Forest Chief at Leicester yesterday, his eighth winner in four days, has landed him this latest vote of confidence.

Murphy, 30, had his first sit on the nine-year-old at the weekend, in a low-key schooling session at West Lockinge. "He was everything I expected him to be," said the Irishman, the regular pilot of one of Best Mate's championship rivals, Beef Or Salmon. "He's obviously a fabulous horse, his record says it all and it's a privilege just to be asked to ride him. And having also ridden Beef Or Salmon, I will have been on the two best staying chasers around. It's just a pleasure to be able to say you've ridden both."

A maximum of six will turn out in the William Hill Chase against Best Mate, headed by Sir Rembrandt, who was only half a length behind him at Cheltenham in March, and already has an encouraging second place in the Charlie Hall Chase 18 days ago under his girth this term.

Three of the other contenders declared yesterday, Hand Inn Hand and the stablemates Seebald and Upgrade, are also match-fit, but of the remaining pair, One Knight has not run since falling at the first in last year's Hennessy and Frenchman's Creek's most recent outing was his third place in the 2002 renewal of the race formerly known as the Whitbread.

Knight is fully aware that the eagerly-awaited return to the fray of the sport's icon in the £65,000 contest specially designed for him will be no sinecure. "It will be a good race," she said. "I am delighted with him and he is ready for a race, but others have had the benefit of a run already."

As a precaution in case the West Country weather turns against him, Best Mate has also been entered, along with 11 others including stablemate Edredon Bleu, in Saturday's Peterborough Chase at Huntingdon in which he was beaten, on boggy ground, last year. But the forecast is for the star's favoured good going on Haldon Hill.

It will be little comfort to McCoy that Culloty, who is also suffering from an injured thumb, does not plan a return to action for another three weeks.

But McCoy's is merely dislocated, not broken: the nine-times champion did the damage when his right hand became caught up in the reins after Flying Patriarch spooked and unseated him before the start of the juvenile hurdle. He was diagnosed and treated at a hospital in Swindon, near his home, and is expected to recover with his usual resilience.

News
people Biographer says cinema’s enduring sex symbol led a secret troubled life
News
newsGlobal index has ranked the quality of life for OAPs - but the UK didn't even make it into the top 10
News
people

Kirstie Allsopp has waded into the female fertility debate again

News
In 2006, Pluto was reclassified as a 'dwarf planet'
scienceBut will it be reinstated?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
people
News
Researchers say a diet of fatty foods could impede smell abilities
scienceMeasuring the sense may predict a person's lifespan
Sport
footballArsenal 4 Galatasaray 1: Wenger celebrates 18th anniversary in style
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
News
Gillian Anderson was paid less than her male co-star David Duchovny for three years while she was in the The X-Files until she protested and was given the same salary
people

Gillian Anderson lays into gender disparity in Hollywood

Life and Style
Laid bare: the Good2Go app ensures people have a chance to make their intentions clear about having sex
techCould Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Burr remains the baker to beat on the Great British Bake Off
tvRichard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Life and Style
fashionThe Secret Angels all take home huge sums - but who earns the most?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
News
The village was originally named Llansanffraid-ym-Mechain after the Celtic female Saint Brigit, but the name was changed 150 years ago to Llansantffraid – a decision which suggests the incorrect gender of the saint
newsA Welsh town has changed its name - and a prize if you can notice how
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

DT Teacher - Resistant Materials

£33000 - £34000 per annum: Randstad Education Group: Technology Teacher (Resis...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Uncapped Commission, 1st yr OTE £30-£40k : SThree:...

Middleware Support Analyst

£45000 - £50000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Senior Java Developer/Designer

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: My client are looking fo...

Day In a Page

Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

An app for the amorous

Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

She's having a laugh

Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

Arsenal vs Galatasaray

Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?