TRAINER Aidan O’Brien has been left in the lurch after jockey Pat Smullen this week refused an invitation to replace his successful stable jockey Johnny Murtagh.
Murtagh and O’Brien parted ways last week and it was believed that Smullen would replace Murtagh in the O’Brien camp, reported irishcentral.com. However Smullen said on Tuesday he was perfectly content with his new stable and would pass on the offer to replace Murtagh.
“I’ve got a very good job and I ride for some very good owners so I’m happy where I am,” said Smullen, who has ridden Group One winners in Ireland, France, England and the United States. “I’m staying with Dermot Weld. He’s a world class trainer and he’s got some great owners. I’m very happy in the position I am at the moment.”
Murtagh (40), who has had three tremendous seasons with the world-renowned trainer, announced on Monday he was terminating his partnership with O’Brien.
Murtagh, one of the world’s top jockeys, won many of the big races around the world inlucing three 2000 Guineas, one 1000 Guineas and four Irish Derby’s, three Epsom Derbys, the Eclipse Stakes, three King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, three Sussex Stakes, three Yorkshire Oaks and internationally wins in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, Breeders’ Cup Turf, Breeders’ Cup Mile, Breeders’ Cup Marathon and Hong Kong Vase.
Murtagh issued a statement on Monday ending his association with O’Brien and other trainers associated with Coolmore Stud operation. The statement said, “Johnny has spoken to Mr John Magnier, Mr Derrick Smith, Mr Michael Tabor and Mr Aidan O’Brien and informed them that he will not be renewing his contract to ride as stable jockey to Coolmore and Ballydoyle next season, 2011.
The Irish Independent speculated: “The four-time champion jockey gave nothing away in his statement on Monday. Rumours have abounded for months that his partnership with Aidan O’Brien was on borrowed time, but the Meath man won’t make a drama out of a crisis.
“All of Murtagh’s predecessors have been utilised by O’Brien subsequent to the cessation of formal links with the Ballydoyle operation, so he’s unlikely to stray far from a dignified and diplomatic announcement. He knows better.
“The simplest rationalisation of Murtagh’s motive is to conclude that he has become increasingly frustrated at the seemingly arbitrary riding arrangements for O’Brien’s horses. Since very early in the season, it was obvious that things were changing, as the trainer’s son Joseph came in for an increasing number of rides.
“..as the season wore on and Joseph went in pursuit of the apprentices’ title, Murtagh often found himself either demoted to a second string or twiddling his thumbs in the weighing room. Murtagh appeared to always have his pick in Group Ones, but there is no denying his status was undermined by the day-to-day arrangements.”