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Aidan O'Brien and Frankie Dettori lead Johnny Murtagh tributes

Updated: Wednesday, 26 Feb 2014 07:51 | Comments

Johnny Murtagh announced his retirement as a jockey on Tuesday
Johnny Murtagh announced his retirement as a jockey on Tuesday

Aidan O'Brien and Frankie Dettori were among those to pay tribute to Johnny Murtagh after the multiple Group One-winning jockey announced his retirement from the saddle to concentrate on his training career.

Murtagh, 43, is widely regarded as one of the greatest riders of the modern era and partnered over 100 top-level winners at home and abroad during a stellar career.

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.

While he enjoyed a fantastic campaign in what turned out to be his final season as a jockey, riding five Group One winners, he feels the time is now right to bring his illustrious riding career to an end.

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

He was stable jockey to O'Brien's powerful Ballydoyle operation between 2008 and 2010, riding such greats as Henrythenavigator, Duke Of Marmalade and incredible four-time Gold Cup hero Yeats.

O'Brien said: "Johnny was a wonderful rider and we had great years together when he rode for us.

"He will be a great trainer and we would like to wish him, Orla (Murtagh's wife) and all the family every success in the future."

Frankie Dettori, who like Murtagh has been in the upper echelon of Flat jockeys for a number of years, paid tribute to his great friend and former colleague.

Dettori said: "Johnny is probably one of the best judges of pace I've ever come across and one of the most hard working and talented jockeys I've ever ridden against.

"I'm genuinely upset that he will no longer be in the weighing room when I go in there."

Eddie Lynam provided Murtagh with a number of big-race victories, with the jockey producing a typically brilliantly judged ride to get Sole Power up in the last stride of last summer's King's Stand at Royal Ascot.

The jockey's last ride was on the same horse in the Hong Kong Sprint at Sha Tin in December.

"He's been a great jockey. It's a big loss to me, but we'll have to get on with it," said the County Meath handler.

"I was talking to him on Monday and wished him a happy retirement. He's going to be a good trainer now, so we will have to compete against him.

"He gave Sole Power a fantastic ride in the King's Stand. It was best summed up by James Willoughby that day. He said Johnny sold lengths when they were expensive and bought them when they were cheap.

"A top man, a very good jockey and I wish him well in his retirement."

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