JOHNNY MURTAGH on Tuesday described an anonymous video posted on YouTube and subsequent comment relating to the clip as deeply upsetting, claiming there had been an obvious intention to damage his good name.
After he and connections of Sole Power were officially exonerated of any wrongdoing by the BHA, Murtagh for the first time spoke in depth about footage taken from the Royal Ascot winner’s enclosure following his success on Sole Power in last year’s King’s Stand Stakes.
Following the conclusion of the BHA’s inquiries, Murtagh told the Racing Post: “Having recently retired from race riding after 27 years in the saddle, I and my family were shocked to see the recent anonymous video uploaded on YouTube. The insinuation of impropriety on my part with respect to my ride on Sole Power at Royal Ascot 2013 was deeply upsetting.
Johnny Murtagh on Sole Power.
“This was compounded by the attention it received in the racing media and particularly on the website of a leading international trainer. There was an obvious intent to damage my good name, and my past and future reputation.
“I declined to comment while the matter was under investigation by the BHA. I am delighted that the BHA, having viewed additional video angles of my interaction with Sarah Lynam while helping to remove Sole Power’s breastgirth, have cleared me of any impropriety and vindicated my good name.”
The video posted on YouTube suggested an unidentified object had passed between winning rider Murtagh and Sarah Lynam, the daughter of Sole Power’s trainer Eddie Lynam, in the winner’s enclosure after the race.
The footage sparked widespread rumour on social media that Murtagh had passed something to Lynam and led the BHA to investigate further.
Those inquiries officially ended on Tuesday after the sport’s governing body found that “nothing untoward” had taken place, finding that after unsaddling Sole Power, Lynam placed the girth carried by Sole Power during the race, and which had been removed from the horse’s tack during unsaddling, over the saddle of Johnny Murtagh. It was also established that at no time did Murtagh pass any item to Lynam.
As part of the inquiries Murtagh, Eddie and Sarah Lynam were all interviewed, while accompanied by solicitors. Also reviewed was the official stewards’ patrol footage of the race, together with all footage recorded by Channel 4 in their terrestrial coverage and high-quality footage of the incident provided by At The Races.
Jamie Stier, director of raceday operations and regulation for the BHA, said: “With these findings establishing that nothing untoward took place following the running of the 2013 King’s Stand Stakes, and that there had not been any breach of the rules, the matter is now closed.
“The BHA appreciates the assistance of At the Races and Channel 4 in providing requested footage in relation to this matter.”