Don't let agonising Champions Day defeats take gloss off Oisin Murphy and Ralph Beckett's seasons | The Sun
FRUSTRATED and beaten – but trainer Ralph Beckett and jockey Oisin Murphy should have left Ascot Saturday taking huge positives out of the 2023 Flat season.
Be strong lads.
Beckett has had a tremendous campaign, with more winners (128 at the time of writing) and prize money (over £4million) than ever before.
But the Kimpton handler has also had 11 seconds in Group 1 races in 2023, namely Kinross (Champions Sprint/Foret), Westover (Arc/King George/Sheema Classic/Coronation Cup), Remarquee (Falmouth/Coronation), Bluestocking (Champions Filly & Mare/Irish Oaks) and Task Force (Middle Park).
It's a game of fine lines.
Murphy has learned to keep his emotions under wraps, but anyone who knows the Irishman could see him beating himself up inside after the defeat of Via Sistina in the Group 1 Champion Stakes.
The former champion dropped his whip just over a furlong out when he wanted to use it.
Via Sistina kept on well, but was picked up by King of Steel.
The crowd roared. Frankie Dettori was the star and most couldn't have cared less what happened to the defeated horses.
Murphy was furious, annoyed with himself for losing his stick for the first time this season and doing it in a Group 1, with trainer George Boughey and owner Mrs Hillen foremost in his mind.
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There are many classical dilemmas in life, such as whether to go with the head or the heart, withdraw your horse from a high draw at Chester or challenge down the middle of the track or far side on the artificial at Lingfield.
Murphy's mind will forever wonder what might have been.
As it happens, I suspect it made no difference.
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Some of you will probably think I would say that, but I'm used to those kind of comments!
What few really noticed about Saturday's Qipco Champion Stakes was that Dettori had almost given up on King of Steel from time to time.
Eventually the grey got going and he won snugly.
We could debate all day what might have been, but my gut feeling – fit as it is – leaves me in little doubt Via Sistina achieved her best possible position and also ran the race of her life.
Murphy went to Saint-Cloud yesterday and rode a huge double for back-to-the-bigtime David Menuisier on Sunway in the Group 1 Criterium International and Caius Chorister in a Group 3.
It's a game for always moving on. Like so much in life if you fill your mind with 'what ifs' you get nowhere.
The Champion Stakes was poor for Bay Bridge, another Sir Michael Stoute horse who has struggled to bring it to the table this season, while William Haggas has his work cut out with My Prospero who is clearly more talented at home than on the track right now.
Kyprios was the best horse in the Long Distance Cup, and he will be a real force next term when hopefully he will get a full campaign under his belt. He remains the best stayer out there.
Sweet William didn't travel as well as he might have done. That said not so long ago he was a handicapper off 85.
He's come a long way and still has more to show us.
As far as the Qipco Champions Sprint is concerned I will forever wonder how the hell Kinross didn't win. I still can't work it out. Can you?
I have a feeling Warm Heart would have hacked up in the Filly & Mare, as may well Savethelastdance.
The former heads to the Breeders' Cup, and the latter is roughed off for the season, so they weren't there.
Fair play to Poptronic and her owner-breeders, but she won't be at the top of the World Rankings later in the season.
And so to Big Rock.
Yes he was my banker of the meeting, so I'm a little biased, but for me his success in the QEII was the performance of the season, and getting to somewhere near Frankel's jaw-dropping victory in the 2000 Guineas.
Big Rock mixes form with Ace Impact, the Arc hero, and both have been huge for France.
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Big Rock has also finished second in big races this term just like Beckett and Murphy did over the weekend.
Yet all three know how to win in style.
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