MURDOCK Brothers was the old registered name for the ownership of a strong stable of horses in the 1970s and 80s owned by the late Joe and Jim Murdock of Belfast. The modern day ‘Murdock Brothers’ John Paul and Gavin, are sons of the recently deceased Harry Murdock.
Harry, the youngest of five brothers, drove in most of the races and made the training decisions in the days when the green and black of the Murdocks were the most successful colours in the game. He was 74 when he passed and had retired from driving around 20 years previously.
“He still came come down on the days we did fast work,” recalls John Paul. “He liked watching the babies as they learned, he kept us in check.”
The sons keep a barn at Annaghmore Raceway. The Murdock stables still did well in the 90s and at the turn of the century. Spiderman, Camden Lover and others kept the well known surname on the results page. Relatively speaking, though, the yard was not as prolific as in Harry’s day.
Enter Gavin and John Paul. An early coup was secured when they owned part of Springhill Alibi who won the Famous Musselburgh Pace in 2013. Victory was sweet because their father Harry had been second in the blue riband three times.
In recent years Blackwell Hall Star, All Bets Are Off, The Gypsy Queen, have all paid their way.
Gavin was officially the trainer of VDM 2021 colts winner Oakwood Paddy and last year’s fillies’ heroine Maid Sweet.
An interesting aspect of their business has been the increase in exports to the US. Eliothorpe looked to be crying out for a one-mile track and he landed an impressive debut at Woodbine. Blackwell Ruby also ran up a sequence Stateside.
The boys have forged a productive relationship with Tyrone-born owner Ruairi Mc Nulty. At the time of going to press Oakwood Cowboy has a win and a second in America while the smaller Oakwood Paddy has yet to break his duck.
With limited prize money in Britain and Ireland and with the export trade back on, it means that there is a logical route for top class horses. Jay makes a good point that if the cream keep getting sent to the States it leaves winning opportunities for some of the lesser lights.
It is quite possible that some of these ‘five to follow’ could feature in the news from America in future years.
John Paul (Jay) Murdock acts as spokesman for the outfit. He gave The Irish Field his five to follow, all of which are pacers.
Ayr Balmoral (GB)
3yo g Always Be Miki - JKs Majorette
He had a good two-year-old campaign winning six from seven starts. He was tall and weak last year but he has grown and filled out now. He’s in all the major three-year-old colts races; the VDM, Breeders’ Crown. We are very much looking forward to him.
Maid Sweet (IRE)
3yo f Sweet Lou - Maid of The West
She had a great two-year-old season. She ticked off two of the three big targets in the UK, the VDM and the Breeders Crown. Again, she has filled her frame well. I think there’s a big year in her.
I’m Great Hanover (USA)
4yo m f Captaintreacherous - I’m Not Gonnalie
A lovely big Captain mare. We have a lot of time for her. She had two nice wins on grass last year. She is lightly raced and God only knows what’s under the bonnet.
Churchview Camelot (IRE)
4yo g Foreclosure/Lyons Flum
The breeding makes him a full-brother to Churchview Frankel. He is new to our barn but he did little wrong for Alan Wallace junior in 2022. We like him, he looks great in training.
He is in all the big stakes. Ciaran Mc Hugh owns him. Rhyds Scoundrel sadly died and Oakwood Paddy has gone to America so there are openings for him.
Greentree Infinity (GB)
5yo g Western Jackpot - Greentree Serenity
Cardiff-based owner Johnny Connors bred him and kept him to race. He has decent form on grass, having won at Appleby and Boughrood.
He is light on his feet for a big horse. We are not scared to travel to the UK, which suits the owner.