Johnny Murtagh can talk, boy can he talk – most of the time he’s the model of an affable Irishman.
But what comes out of his mouth is much more than hot air, it’s invariably well thought-out and interesting, just as you would expect from a man whose intelligence and skill have allowed him to get to the top in two different professions: race-riding and racehorse training.
Prior to his retirement in early 2014, Johnny rode over 3,000 winners, becoming Irish Champion Jockey on no less than five occasions. Largely in partnership with two of the all-time greats of the Irish training fraternity (his mentor, John Oxx, and Aidan O’Brien) he was associated with a string of outstanding horses, most notably Ridgewood Pearl, Sinndar, Yeats and High Chaparral, winning races all around the world, including the Epsom Derby on three occasions.
Based at the 60-box Fox Covert Stables on The Curragh in County Kildare, Johnny had already begun his training career even before he hung up his riding boots, landing three Group Races in his inaugural season of 2013. The business has made steady progress since then, registering new personal best scores in three of the last five seasons, breaking into Ireland’s top ten in 2019 and landing a first Group 1 success when Champers Elysees took the Matron Stakes in September 2020, a Covid-ravaged season which nevertheless saw him record a new high of 45 victories from just 51 individual horses.
Should he choose, Johnny could give it all up tomorrow to become a TV pundit (his regular appearances on ITV Racing have earned rave reviews). But such a decision is highly unlikely while his determination to emulate Oxx and O’Brien remains so strong.
What Murtagh says about RacehorseClub:
“It’s great to be training for RacehorseClub. It’s a brilliant way to get more people into racing giving them an opportunity to get closer to the action. I’m really looking forward to the year ahead.”