• Sport

Murtagh quits the saddle after 27 years

Tuesday, 25th February, 2014 4:02pm

Story by Noelle Finegan
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Murtagh quits the saddle after 27 years
Murtagh quits the saddle after 27 years

BOHERMEEN native Johnny Murtagh, widely regarded as one of the greatest jockeys of his generation, has retired from race-riding after 27 years to concentrate on his training career on the Curragh.

Murtagh has 107 Group 1 wins to his name in the saddle, the most recent of which arrived last September at Haydock when he guided the Tom Hogan-trained Gordon Lord Byron to victory in the Betfred Sprint Cup.

From 1992 to 2003, Murtagh was based with John Oxx where he rode 18 Group 1 winners for the Aga Khan. The highlights in those 11 years came on the brilliant Sinndar which won the Epsom Derby and Irish Derby, as well as the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in 2000.

Murtagh also won the Epsom Derby on Motivator in 2005 for British-based Michael Bell.

In 2008 he secured what many believed to be the biggest job in racing when he was installed as number one for Aidan O’Brien’s Ballydoyle operation and he rode 19 Group 1 winners in his first season with them.

He followed it up in 2009 with another 10, including Irish Derby, QEII Stakes, Sussex Stakes, Ascot Gold Cup, St James’s Palace Stakes and an Irish 1,000 and 2,000 Guineas double.

Murtagh bows out after an incredible 2013 during which he rode a string of big-race winners headlined by Novellist’s King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes triumph and four Royal Ascot successes, including Sole Power’s dramatic King’s Stand Stakes victory for Dunshaughlin-based Eddie Lynam.

Murtagh was named as the Meath Chronicle/Cusack Hotel Group Sportsperson of the Year 2009.

His first winner as a trainer was achieved at Tramore on 1st June last year, the track where he also rode his first winner.

Noelle Finegan

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