Johnny Murtagh

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Johnny Murtagh
Dancing Rain at Epsom Oaks in 2011.jpg
Murtagh after winning the 2011 Epsom Oaks on Dancing Rain
Occupation Jockey / trainer
Born14 May 1970
Navan, County Meath, Ireland
Significant horses
Sinndar, Kalanisi, Choisir, Soviet Song, Henrythenavigator, Yeats, Fame and Glory, Dancing Rain
1000 Guineas (0)
2000 Guineas (2)
Owner Sir Alex Ferguson.svg Owner Mrs John Magnier.svg Owner The Waney Racing Group Inc.svg
Rock Of GibraltarHawk WingRedback
Owner Mrs John Magnier.svg Owner H R H Princess Haya of Jordan.svg Owner Mr Matthew Green.svg
HenrythenavigatorNew ApproachStubbs Art
Derby (3)
Owner H H Aga Khan.svg Owner Mr Hamdan Al Maktoum.svg Owner Mr K Abdulla.svg
SinndarSakheeBeat Hollow
Owner Michael Tabor.svg Owner Mrs John Magnier.svg Owner Godolphin.svg
High ChaparralHawk WingMoon Ballad
Owner The Royal Ascot Racing Club.svg Owner Michael Tabor.svg Owner Godolphin.svg
MotivatorWalk in the ParkDubawi
Oaks (1)
Owner M J and L A Taylor.svg Owner Michael Tabor.svg Owner Helena Springfield Ltd.svg
Dancing RainWonder Of WondersIzzi Top
St Leger (0)

Johnny Murtagh (born 14 May 1970) is an Irish flat racing jockey and trainer from Bohermeen, Kells, County Meath. He has won many of the major flat races in Europe, including all the Irish Classics, all the Group 1 Races at Royal Ascot, The Derby, the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes [1] [2] [3] and Europe's biggest race the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe. He has also been Irish flat racing Champion Jockey five times. [4]


Early career

Murtagh was a keen amateur boxer as a young boy and was once Irish boy's under-14 boxing champion. [4] He also came close to joining Blackburn Rovers’ youth football team. [4]

In an RTÉ radio interview, Johnny stated that at a fight one evening in his native County Meath, a spectator advised his mother that Johnny would make a good jockey, citing his small size, weight, good balance, sense of rhythm, and courage.[ citation needed ] His mother wrote to the Racing Academy and Centre of Education (RACE) in County Kildare, a school for apprentice jockeys, and got a two-week trial for her son. After persuasion by friends, he joined. He was one of 26 successful candidates who progressed onto the RACE 10-month course.

In the same RTÉ interview, Johnny stated that he knew riding was for him as soon as he stepped into the world of horses.[ citation needed ] From the trial, he got on the ten-month training course, and within a year, he was apprenticed to John Oxx, one of Ireland’s leading trainers.

Senior jockey

Murtagh rode his first winner, Chicago Style, at Limerick in 1987. [4]

He became stable jockey to Oxx in 1992, and from then until his departure in 2003, rode 18 Group One winners for the Oxx's leading owner, the Aga Khan. [1] [2] [3] [5] [6]

For Oxx, Murtagh rode Sinndar to win The Derby and Irish Derby, as well as the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe in 2000. [7] [8] He won the Derby again on the Michael Bell trained Motivator. [9] Johnny was also the regular jockey for talented filly Soviet Song. In 2004, the partnership won two Group 1 races, including the Sussex Stakes at Glorious Goodwood. Here she beat a strong field of colts, including the 2,000 Guineas winner Haafhd.

From 2008 to 2010, he was stable jockey for Coolmore, taking over from the drug-banned Kieren Fallon. He had been riding for them on an ad-hoc basis since 2002, most notably winning the Derby on High Chaparral in 2002. [10] In 2008, he rode 19 Group One winners in a single season for O'Brien (21 in total for Coolmore), and followed it up in 2009 with another 10, including the Irish Derby, Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, Sussex Stakes, Ascot Gold Cup, St. James's Palace Stakes and an Irish 1,000 and 2,000 Guineas double.

He resigned his post as stable jockey to Coolmore in November 2010, issuing a statement via his agent to say he had informed Coolmore he wouldn't be renewing his contract. [10] No reason was given but there was speculation that O'Brien was looking for another jockey, and on his recent return from the Breeders Cup at Churchill Downs, where he had ridden four losers for O'Brien, one bookmaker had been offering odds on his replacement. [10] His last Group One winner for the team was Roderic O'Connor in the Criterium International at Saint-Cloud on 31 October 2010.

This meant he was back riding for John Oxx who trained 90 of the Aga Khan's horses, and additionally for Mick Halford who trained 30.

"I am thrilled to be renewing my association with His Highness' horses in Ireland," Murtagh said in a statement. We have shared some fantastic moments over the years and I have always enjoyed riding in the green and red colours. This will also give me an opportunity to ride for John Oxx again. I started off riding for Mr Oxx and it has always been a pleasure to be part of his Currabeg team."[ citation needed ]

He announced his retirement on 25 February 2014, citing that it was to concentrate on his training career. [11]

Personal life

He is married to Orla, daughter of famous Tipperary hurler Michael "Babs" Keating, and has five children. Caroline, Charles, Lauren, Grace and Tom.

Major wins as a jockey

Flag of Ireland.svg Ireland

Flag of Canada (Pantone).svg Canada

Flag of France.svg France

Flag of Germany.svg Germany

Flag of the United Kingdom.svg Great Britain

Flag of Hong Kong.svg Hong Kong

Flag of the United Arab Emirates.svg United Arab Emirates

Flag of the United States.svg United States

Major wins as a trainer

Flag of Ireland.svg Ireland

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  1. 1 2 "Marmalade secures King George win". BBC Sport. 26 July 2008. Retrieved 22 April 2013.
  2. 1 2 "Dylan Thomas wins King George". BBC Sport. 28 July 2007. Retrieved 22 April 2013.
  3. 1 2 "Alamshar's Diamond success". BBC Sport. 26 July 2003. Retrieved 22 April 2013.
  4. 1 2 3 4 "People in Racing: Johnny Murtagh". British Horseracing Authority. Archived from the original on 18 March 2013. Retrieved 20 April 2013.
  5. "Rock wins 2,000 Guineas". BBC Sport. 4 May 2002. Retrieved 22 April 2013.
  6. "High Chaparral wins Derby". BBC Sport. 8 June 2002. Retrieved 22 April 2013.
  7. "Sinndar wins Derby classic". BBC Sport. 10 June 2000. Retrieved 22 April 2013.
  8. "Sinndar stuns Montjeu to win Arc". BBC Sport. 1 October 2000. Retrieved 22 April 2013.
  9. "Motivator powers to Derby victory". BBC Sport. 4 June 2005. Retrieved 22 April 2013.
  10. 1 2 3 Armytage, Marcus (8 November 2010). "Johnny Murtagh quits as No 1 jockey to Aidan O'Brien stable". Daily Telegraph . Retrieved 18 October 2017.
  11. BBC Sport:
Sporting positions
Preceded by
Kieren Fallon
Ballydoyle retained jockey
Succeeded by
Joseph O'Brien