Murphy keeps an ace up his sleeve on Poker

Jockey plays a waiting game on enigmatic chaser and comes from last to first to take final big prize at end of jump season

With a certain irony in view of the debate that is currently ruffling racing's feathers, the season's last major steeplechase was taken with a masterclass of the jockeys' skill, a combination of velvet-gloved tact and judicious, effective use of the whip. Timmy Murphy's Sandown victory on Poker De Sivola in the Bet365 Gold Cup, a late pounce from a seemingly hopeless position, was nothing but a delight to watch and appreciate. Yet the course stewards, in their wisdom, decided to issue the rider with a two-day ban for misuse of his stick.

Poker De Sivola is a horse who cannot be made to do anything, only asked, and the questions from the saddle came so sweetly that the old recidivist won the prize almost without realising. As Sam Twiston-Davies blazed along in front on 6-1 favourite Baby Run, Murphy quietlypicked off rival after rival in the marathon contest, the last being Faasel just 100 yards from home.

"The horse has always been a bit of an enigma," said Murphy, "and the best way to win on him is almost not to try. You pass one horse, and then sit up, pass another, and sit up again. He likes targets to aim at, and he gets quicker and quicker, and then you find you're in the race. But you certainly can't bully him round three miles and five furlongs."

Poker De Sivola – completely detached on the first circuit – had reached eighth place with three fences to jump and sixth an obstacle later, though still adrift of the leading pack, headed by Faasel and Baby Run. After the penultimate obstacle Murphy administered three smacks to maintain the eight-year-old's gathering momentum, and landed over the last in the mix in fourth.

Poker De Sivola, further stimulatedby a series of rapid right-handed flicks, galloped up the steep run to the finish with a will. The fact that he went from fourth to first in a furlong and won by two-and-a-quarter lengths, going away, caused raised eyebrows over the stewards' judgement that Murphy failed to give his mount time to respond between strikes. Perhaps in the current climate they are particularly jumpy.

The victory, in the colours of David Johnson, was particularly timely for Murphy. Once one of the golden boys of the weighing room, his caste has fallen in recent seasons and his tally for the season that ended yesterday – 32 winners– was his lowest since his apprentice days. He revealed that without Johnson's support, he may have given up. "It's sometimes been hard to get motivated to drive three hours to a meeting for one ride," he said. "It gets demoralising. But a day like today makes it worthwhile. I love riding a quirky devil like this one, it's a challenge and it's fun."

Murphy, 36, intends to carry on for at least another season. And, having won one Grand National for Johnson on Comply Or Die three years ago he may have the chance to repay his boss's loyalty with another. Poker De Sivola, trained by Ferdy Murphy in Yorkshire, has been introduced at 25-1 for the next Aintree showpiece.

Tony McCoy, crowned champion yesterday for the 16th time, took his total for the campaign to 218 with success on French Opera in the two-mile chase. He was among industry professionals to roundly condemn the announcement by officials at Towcester that they wish to ban the use of the whip. "I'm all for making the sport spectator-friendly," he said, "but the whip is an essential tool in so many ways. And jockeys of all people are aware of the horse's welfare."

The mixed meeting here is a crossover of the two racing codes – neatly summed up in the novelty finale, in which Ryan Moore beat McCoy in a close finish – and one of the potential stars of the Flat season, Dick Turpin, had an easy enough introduction in the Bet365 Mile, stretching away smoothly under Richard Hughes for a clear-cut defeatof Cityscape. The handsome black four-year-old now faces a clash with his Richard Hannon stablemate Canford Cliffs in the Lockinge Stakes at Newbury next month.

Hannon's much-fancied candidate for the 1,000 Guineas, Memory, will have one less rival in the Classic today week after former favourite White Moonstone was ruled out after pulling up stiff after a gallop yesterday.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Money
Welcome to tinsel town: retailers such as Selfridges will be Santa's little helpers this Christmas, working hard to persuade shoppers to stock up on gifts
news
News
i100
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Architect Frank Gehry is regarded by many as the most important architect of the modern era
arts + entsGehry has declared that 98 per cent of modern architecture is "s**t"
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
arts + entsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker