/ Racing

Johnny Murtagh retires as a jockey to concentrate on training career

Updated: Tuesday, 25 Feb 2014 22:08 | Comments

Johnny Murtagh has ridden his last race as he refocuses on training
Johnny Murtagh has ridden his last race as he refocuses on training

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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.

"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."

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."

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