Friday 19 December 2014

Johnny Murtagh retires from riding to focus on training career

Ashley Iveson

Published 25/02/2014 | 13:58

Johnny Murtagh

Multiple Group One-winning jockey Johnny Murtagh has announced he is to retire from race-riding to concentrate on his training career.

Crowned Irish champion jockey on five occasions, the 43-year-old is widely regarded as one of the greatest riders of the modern era and partnered countless big-race winners in all corners of the globe.

Murtagh said: "The training side of things is getting bigger all the time and I wasn't happy giving the riding 50 per cent and the training 50 per cent.

"It's the right time to call it a day with the riding and put everything into the training side of things."

During a stellar career Murtagh rode over 100 Group One winners at home and abroad, and was successful in each of the five Irish Classics at least once, riding four Irish Derby winners and six Irish Oaks winners, including last year's French-trained Oaks heroine Chicquita.

He also rode three winners of the Epsom Derby in Sinndar (2000), High Chaparral (2002) and Motivator and was successful in the 2000 Guineas twice aboard the brilliant Rock Of Gibraltar (2002) and Henrythenavigator (2008).

Murtagh's other British Classic victory came with a brilliant front-running ride aboard 2011 Oaks scorer Dancing Rain.

The jockey also had a great affinity with Royal Ascot, taking the leading rider award at the summer showpiece meeting for a fifth time last year.

His numerous Ascot winners include five triumphs in the Gold Cup, guiding the remarkable Yeats to two of his four victories in the two-and-a-half-mile feature.

"I've done extremely well and when you look at the list of horses I've ridden, there have been some brilliant horses," said Murtagh

"It would be unfair to pick out one, but there were a number of special days.

"My first Derby win aboard Sinndar was obviously a huge thing and then Yeats was an incredible horse to be associated with.

"I suppose winning on Sole Power in the King's Stand last year was massive for me as well. Just the way the race went and getting up on the line - you know when you get it right.

"Riding and training Royal Diamond to win on Champions Day last year at Ascot (in the Long Distance Cup). That was something very special as well."

Murtagh enjoyed great associations with some of the biggest stables in the sport, riding as stable jockey for the likes of John Oxx and Aidan O'Brien.

The rider also had a successful spell with Sir Michael Stoute, while Jeremy Noseda, James Fanshawe and Motivator's trainer Michael Bell were others to call upon his services.

"I was very lucky to ride for some great people. I got along with them all and still do. It's been brilliant," said the jockey.

"When you are riding you can take all the big winners for granted, but when you sit back and think about it, I've been very lucky.

"I'm coming up 44 this year and my first Group One was on Manntari for Mr Oxx in 1993 (National Stakes). Someone texted me earlier saying I had 105 Group One winners, but my wife thinks it's 107.

"I've been all over the world riding, I've met some lovely people and it's been a great experience.

"I didn't ride a horse until I was 15 and it's been fantastic, but it's now time to move on to the next chapter in my life."

In May of last year Murtagh took out his training licence, taking over the reins from Tommy Carmody at Fox Covert Stables in County Kildare.

Murtagh confirmed he would continue riding for the rest of that year and enjoyed a fantastic campaign in 2013, with Chicquita and Sole Power among his five Group One winners.

He also partnered German star Novellist to victory in the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot in July and rode his last Group One winner on Tom Hogan's Gordon Lord Byron in the Betfred Sprint Cup at Haydock in September.

His final big-race winner was aptly aboard Royal Diamond on Champions Day.

Murtagh said: "We have 45 horses in training at the moment, including 20 two-year-olds and we have a few new owners.

"I have the same expectations as when I was riding - the standards are still the same.

"If we get a bit of luck and a good horse comes along, we'll get there."

John Patrick Murtagh factfile.

Born: May 14, 1970.

Apprenticeship: with John Oxx.

First winner: Chicago Style, Limerick, July 6, 1987.

Irish champion apprentice: 1989.

Irish champion jockey: 1995, 1996, 1998, 2009 and 2011.

Top jockey at Royal Ascot: 2001 and 2002, 2008, 2009 and 2013.

Breeders' Cup winners: Ridgewood Pearl (Mile 1995), Kalanisi (Turf 2000), Man Of Iron (Marathon 2009).

Derby winners: Sinndar 2000, High Chaparral 2002, Motivator 2005.

Irish Derby winners: Sinndar 2000, Alamshar 2003, Fame And Glory 2009, Cape Blanco 2010.

Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe winner: Sinndar 2000.

King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes winners: Alamshar 2003, Dylan Thomas 2007, Duke Of Marmalade 2008, Novellist 2013.

Rode three Group One winners at Longchamp on October 1, 2000, aboard Sinndar (Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe), Namid (Prix de l'Abbaye) and Petrushka (Prix de l'Opera).

Other Group One winners:

Investec Oaks (2011 Dancing Rain), QIPCO 2000 Guineas (2002 Rock Of Gibraltar, 2008 Henrythenavigator), Irish 1,000 Guineas (2009 Again), Irish 2,000 Guineas (2001 Black Minnaloushe, 2008 Henrythenavigator, 2009 Mastercraftsman), Irish Oaks (1997 Ebadiyla, 1998 Winona, 2000 Petrushka, 2007 Peeping Fawn, 2008 Moonstone, 2013 Chicquita), Irish St Leger (2011 Jukebox Jury), Prix de Diane (2012 Valiyra), Irish Champion Stakes (1996 Timarida), Matron Stakes (1995 Timarida, 2004 Soviet Song, 2010 Lillie Langtry), Moyglare Stud Stakes (1998 Edabiya), National Stakes (1993 Manntari, 1999 Sinndar, 2008 Mastercraftsman), Phoenix Stakes (2008 Mastercraftsman, 2009 Alfred Nobel, 2010 Zoffany), Pretty Polly Stakes (1993 Takarouna), Tattersalls Gold Cup (2007 Notnowcato, 2008 Duke Of Marmalade, 2010 Fame And Glory), Champion Stakes (2000 Kalanisi), Coronation Cup (2008 Soldier Of Fortune, 2010 Fame And Glory), Coral-Eclipse (2008 Mount Nelson), Falmouth Stakes (2004 & 2005 Soviet Song, 2007 Simply Perfect), Fillies' Mile (2007 Listen), Juddmonte International (2008 Duke Of Marmalade, 2010 Rip Van Winkle), July Cup (2004 Frizzante, 2010 Starspangledbanner), Middle Park Stakes (2008 Bushranger), Nassau Stakes (2007 Peeping Fawn, 2008 Halfway To Heaven), Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (2009 Rip Van Winkle), Racing Post Trophy (2000 Dilshaan, 2009 St Nicholas Abbey), Sussex Stakes (2004 Soviet Song, 2008 Henrythenavigator, 2009 Rip Van Winkle), Yorkshire Oaks (1996 Key Change, 2000 Petrushka, 2007 Peeping Fawn), Criterium de Saint-Cloud (2008 Fame And Glory), Prix de l'Abbaye de Longchamp (2000 Namid, 2009 Total Gallery), Prix du Cadran (2002 Give Notice), Prix Ganay (2008 Duke Of Marmalade), Prix Morny (2008 Bushranger), Prix du Moulin de Longchamp (1995 Ridgewood Pearl), Prix de l'Opera (1995 Timarida, 2000 Petrushka), Prix Royal-Oak (2008 Yeats), Prix Vermeille (2007 Mrs Lindsay), Prix Marcel Boussac (2010 Misty For Me), Beverly D Stakes (1996 Timarida), Hong Kong Vase (2000 Daliapour), E P Taylor (2001 Choc Ice, 2007 Mrs Lindsay), Cheveley Park Stakes (2011 Lightening Pearl, 2012 Rosdhu Queen).

Royal Ascot Wins (43): Coronation Stakes (1995 Ridgewood Pearl, 2010 Lillie Langtry); Gold Cup (1999 Enzeli, 2001 Royal Rebel, 2002, Royal Rebel, 2008 & 2009 Yeats), St James's Palace Stakes (2001 Black Minnaloushe, 2008 Henrythenavigator, 2009 Mastercraftsman), Duke of Edinburgh Stakes (2000, Katiykha), Ascot Handicap Stakes (2000 Barba Papa), Golden Jubilee (2000 Superior Premium, 2003 Choisir, 2007 Soldier's Tale, 2010 Starspangledbanner), King George V Handicap (2001 Beekeeper), Ribblesdale Stakes (2001 Sahara Slew), Wokingham Handicap (2001 Nice One Clare, 2010 Laddies Poker Two, 2011 Deacon Blues), Queen Anne Stakes (2002 No Excuse Needed, 2008 Haradasun), King Edward VII Stakes (2002 Balakheri, 2012 Thomas Chippendale), Windsor Castle Stakes (2002 Revenue, 2011 Frederick Engels, 2013 Extortionist), King's Stand Stakes (2003 Choisir, 2013 Sole Power), Hampton Court Stakes (2003 Persian Majesty), Jersey Stakes (2005 Proclamation), Queen Alexandra Stakes (2005 Cruzspiel, 2008 Honolulu), Queen Mary Stakes (2007 Elletelle), Britannia Handicap (2007 Eddie Jock), Prince Of Wales's Stakes (2008 Duke Of Marmalade), Hardwicke Stakes (2008 Macarthur, 2013 Thomas Chippendale), Windsor Forest Stakes (2009 Spacious), Queen's Vase (2010 Mikhael Glinka), Wolferton Handicap (2013 Forgotten Voice).

Other information: Murtagh was used regularly by Sir Michael Stoute in 2000 when Kieren Fallon was injured. He spent some of 2006 riding over hurdles, but returned to Flat racing later that year, and was Ballydoyle's main jockey in Britain in 2007, before assuming the full role. He quit the job in November 2010 to be retained jockey for the Aga Khan in Ireland, turned freelance in August, 2012.

He was granted a training licence in May, 2013 and sent out his first winner via Benbecula who was a winner at Tramore on June 1.

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