Timothy James Murphy, born 20 August 1974 in County Kildare, Ireland, is most famous for his victory in the 2008 Grand National on Comply or Die. He won by four lengths on the David Pipe-trained horse and in the process gave punters a ‘national victory’ as bookmakers faced multimillion pound payouts following a last minute surge in betting on Comply or Die.
Having been around horses all his life – his father was a former leading Irish amateur – it came as no surprise when he showed enthusiasm, working weekends for Cheltenham Gold Cup-winning trainer Noel Chance while still a schoolboy. After a spell under the supervision of Limerick trainer Michael Hourigan, Murphy moved over to the UK to work at Kim Bailey’s yard in the Cotswolds.
The rollercoaster that is Murphy’s career started going downhill at this point, and he was dismissed for poor time keeping. He went on to become champion trainer Paul Nicholls’ stable jockey, but lost his job twice and landed himself with two drink-driving convictions. He was also banned for 30 days for persistent whip offences, which meant that he missed out on riding a winner in the 1997 King George VI.
Even though he had numerous run-ins and personal problems he was still regarded as the best chase rider in the business by many, so trainers such as Nicholls, Hourigan and Mark Pitman continued to employ him. His ultimate low came in 2002 when he was given a six month prison sentence for indecent assault after a drink-fuelled incident on a plane. This however, was probably the best as well as the worst thing to ever happen to him, as he left prison a changed man, teetotal ever since, with no intention of returning to his old self.
When Tony McCoy left the then champion trainer Martin Pipe in 2004, Murphy became the retained jockey to Pipe’s leading owner, David Johnson, who has supported Murphy all the way. It was therefore a fitting re-launch to Murphy’s career that it was Johnson’s horse Comply or Die that he brought to victory at the Grand National.
He recorded his 1,000th winner at Taunton on 21 January 2010 and notched up his third win in the Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham on board the David Pipe trained Great Endeavour in November 2011.
He has ridden in 17 Grand Nationals, with four of them on board Comply Or Die but in 2012 he partnered with Weird Al for Donald McCain Jnr but fell at fence 27.
For the 2013 Grand National he was once again on board Weird Al for Donald McCain, but pulled-up at Foinavon on the second circuit.