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Press Release 1st May 2023 Kempton Park

Amy Murphy admitted that she nearly sent the television ‘through the window’ such was the noise she produced in roaring stable stalwart Mercian Prince (8-1) to glory in the Racing TV Handicap Chase at Kempton Park today from the comfort of her home.

The 12 year old provided the Newmarket handler with what she described as the perfect ‘pick me up’ in the feature prize, which arrived just days after announcing the retirement of her Grade One winner Kalashnikov due to the recurrence of an old tendon injury.

Sent straight into the lead by regular rider Jack Quinlan the Midnight Legend gelding was not for catching after putting in a near foot perfect round of jumping before having just enough in reserve to hold off the fast-finishing Jay Jay Reily by half a length.

Murphy said following Mercian Prince’s sixth victory at the track: “I was shouting so much I nearly sent the television through the window I was so loud! It was just unbelievable.

“I was a bit worried when that rain came as these days with his wind he needs top of the ground but he has the heart of a lion.

“Between him, Kalashnikov and Hawthorn Cottage they’ve picked me up when I’ve needed it most. They are just unbelievable horses.

“For a stable of our size replacing a horse like Kalashnikov is hard, but Mercian Prince is right behind him and it always felt like they had their own competition between them. I’m incredibly proud of Mercian Prince and it was the perfect pick me up.

“Jack gave him a great ride and the two know each other so well. It was a brilliant performance and I couldn’t believe the price of him as he loves these small fields that he can dominate.

“I’ve never trained a better jumper than him and once he gets out in front, he is hard to peg back.”

Although absent from the track Murphy insisted that the celebrations were in full flow back at her base where she watched the race with her dad Paul, and owner-breeder of Mercian Prince, who could now embark on a few forays over to France.

She added: “Dad has already cracked open the champagne but this is what we do it for.

“Because he needs this ground he is only just getting going so we have plenty to work with.

“We will probably do a bit of both with him in racing him here and in France as those small field conditions races over there will really suit him.”

Road diversions are usually things to be cursed at. However trainer James Owen was thankful for the one that helped him arrive at Kempton Park in time to celebrate Father Of Jazz become his first winner since taking out a professional licence. 

Having established a successful pre-training business, along with saddling a number of point-to-point and Arabian racehorse winners, the Newmarket handler enjoyed a breakthrough win with the Kingman gelding in the Kempton Park Working With The Community Novices’ Hurdle. 

Held up during the early stages of the two mile contest by Aidan Coleman the 17-2 chance, who Owen also broke in as a youngster, hit the front between the final two flights before going on to score by two and a quarter lengths.

Owen said: “Unfortunately Tim (Gredley, of owners The Gredley Family) only got here as Father Of Jazz crossed the line due to an accident on the M25 but we were luckily diverted off down a different route and got here in time. 

“I’ve had a lot of Arab (racehorse) winners and point-to-point winners but this is my first with a proper licence, which I decided to take out just after Christmas. 

“We have got a small handful and the Gredley family have been very loyal to me throughout my point-to-pointing and pre-training. We broke Father Of Jazz in and Too Friendly, who we ran the other day, and it is nice of him to come back to us. 

“We have been trying to run for the last three weeks but the ground just keeps going and then we thought it might again with the rain that came. He has battled that out well for a Flat horse so that was pleasing.

“We’ve talked about the big handicap hurdle at Market Rasen on Summer Plate day and that is our plan. I thought we would go straight there but Aidan wants to give him one more run before we go there.”

The new Jump season might only be in its infancy but trainer Mel Rowley saw her ‘big dream’ of Latitude developing into a Coral Gold Cup horse look a little less far-fetched following his win in the Heart Of The Community Since 1878 Handicap Chase. 

Arriving on the back of a victory at Ludlow the Shirocco gelding backed up that success when defeating Duc De Beauchene by four lengths to keep the dream of running in the prestigious Premier Handicap at Newbury later in the year alive. 

Rowley said of the 4-1 winner: “He was absolutely fantastic today and I’m so pleased with him. Alex (Edwards, jockey) waxed lyrical about him. He just jumped for fun for Alex, who said maybe he needed to go around again he was travelling so easily. 

“His owner Diana Williams has had to be patient with him allowing to grow into himself but thankfully she has given him that opportunity and all the time that he needs. 

“We thought in our wildest dreams that we might be able to look at something like the Coral Gold Cup at Newbury with him. 

“For a little yard like ours that would be a big dream and that is what we are thinking long term of at the moment.”


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