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Mighty Murtagh is Ascot royalty

There is no doubt that Royal Ascot is to the flat fraternity what Cheltenham is to jumps racing, what Wimbledon is to tennis followers, what the World Cup is to football fans. It is the Olympics of flat racing.

To perform on that stage takes a certain attitude and demeanour, but to excel on that stage takes sheer class and an abundance of it. Johnny Murtagh proved last week, despite what the doubters say, he has got the class and the confidence to go with it.

Murtagh had been a 33/1 outsider at the beginning of last week to be the leading jockey at last week's Royal meeting. His focus at the start of the week was on the good rides he had on the opening couple of days, and the runner he had as a trainer on the second day, which he opted to give to Luke Dempsey rather than ride himself.

But as he has done time and time and time again, Murtagh proved his excellence at Royal Ascot. But more importantly for himself, proved that this may not be his last Royal Ascot just because he now holds a training licence. He showed the racing world that when it comes to the big days, and there are few bigger than Royal Ascot, he is still the 'go-to' man for spare rides.

"I started the week with two rides booked on Tuesday, one on Wednesday and one on Thursday," Murtagh revealed.

But you have nothing if you haven't got confidence in yourself and Murtagh definitely doesn't lack in that.

"I've never doubted myself and am not trying to do anything special, I just keep it simple."

Simple works, but it is the stats to go along with that opening quote from Murtagh that makes his achievement all the more remarkable and worthy of special mention in this week's Track Talk.

Joseph O'Brien was the favourite to land the crown that Murtagh eventually regained for the first time since he held the job with Joseph's father Aidan.

Here is a look at how Murtagh's ability to make the most of his limited opportunities compared to those who were more likely and prominent in the betting to be Royal Ascot's leading jockey.

pJoseph O'Brien: 18 rides, seven of which were favourites; he had three winners and finished second twice.

pRichard Hughes: 25 rides, five of which were favourites; he had one winner, six were placed.

pRyan Moore: 29 rides, four of which were favourites; he had three winners, one was second, six were in third.

pWilliam Buick: 23 rides, two of which were favourites; he had one winner, one was second and two were third.

pJamie Spencer: 26 rides, one was favourite, two won and three were placed.

pJohnny Murtagh: 11 rides, none were sent off as favourite, four won and Simenon was beaten a quarter of a length in the Gold Cup.


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