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Tributes pour in after death of trainer Murphy

Ten-time Cheltenham Festival-winning trainer Ferdy Murphy has died at the age of 70 following a long battle with cancer
Ten-time Cheltenham Festival-winning trainer Ferdy Murphy has died at the age of 70 following a long battle with cancer

By Ashley Iveson

Ten-time Cheltenham Festival-winning trainer Ferdy Murphy has died at the age of 70 following a long battle with cancer.

Murphy was responsible for many talented, as well as popular, jumpers from the moment he took out a licence in 1990 and especially when based at Wynbury Stables in West Witton in North Yorkshire from 1996 to 2013.

The Wexford-born trainer then took the bold and surprising move of relocating to a farm in Upper Normandy in France in search of better prize money and to be near his eldest daughter, Caroline.

Murphy continued his breeding business there, as well as buying and selling young stock, and training on a smaller scale.

Murphy's son Barry said: "It's a sad day, but he's in a better place. We had some amazing days. He's a true great, in my opinion."

The horse widely regarded as the best Murphy trained was French Holly, who was a devastating 14-length winner of the Royal & SunAlliance Novices' Hurdle at the 1998 Cheltenham Festival.

Andrew Thornton steered French Holly to each of his eight victories over obstacles. He said: "The first time I rode for him was on French Holly in a good novice hurdle at Ayr. Ferdy said to me, 'Remember he's a good horse' and I won on him.

"For getting horses ready for Cheltenham, there was no one better. Ferdy was charismatic and just a true horseman."

In 2002, Murphy brought a leading point-to-point rider named Davy Russell across the Irish Sea and provided him with his first winner as a professional jockey at Sedgefield.

Now a three-time champion jockey in his homeland, Russell said: "We had some great days and Ferdy was a fantastic mentor. He was also a very good friend and I owe him a lot."

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