DISTINGUISHED jockey turned trainer-jockey Johnny Murtagh has called time on his illustrious riding career to concentrate on his training business.
Murtagh took out his trainer’s licence last May and continued to ride with great success, winning four Gr.1 races, including the Gr.1 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes aboard Novellist (Monsun), on whom he was a late substitute for William Buick. He also trained and rode Royal Diamond (King’s Best) to victory in the Gr.3 British Champions Long Distance Cup at Ascot.
Murtagh commented: “The training side of things is getting bigger all the time and I wasn’t happy giving the riding 50% and the training 50%. It’s the right time to call it a day with the riding and put everything into the training side of things.”
Murtagh, now dedicated to his training career. (racepedia.co.uk)
The 43-year-old was Irish champion rider five times and was renowned as a jockey for the big occasion. He rode over 100 Gr.1 winners and was successful in each of the five Irish Classics, winning the Irish Derby four times and the Irish Oaks on six occasions, including last year aboard the Alain de Royer-Dupre-trained Chicquita (Montjeu).
Murtagh also rode three winners of the Derby at Epsom aboard Sinndar (2000; by Grand Lodge),High Chaparral (2002; by Sadler’s Wells) and Motivator (2005; Montjeu), and was successful in the 2,000 Guineas twice aboard Rock Of Gibraltar (2002; Danehill) and Henrythenavigator (2008; Kingmambo). He had an excellent record at Royal Ascot, taking the leading rider award at the summer showpiece meeting for a fifth time last year.
Murtagh rode successfully for some of the world’s top trainers, including Ballydoyle’s Aiden O’Brien and indeeed for Mike de Kock, for whom he was stable jockey along with Kevin Shea in the 2007/8 Dubai season, riding the likes of Asiatic Boy (2nd in the 2007 Dubai World Cup), UAE Derby winner Honour Devil and Oracle West.