11/08/2010 4:03PM

Murtagh leaving Ballydoyle


Jockey Johnny Murtagh resigned as contract rider for the Irish-based Ballydoyle on Monday. A statement released by Eddie Byrne, the agent for the 40-year-old Irish rider, read, "Johnny Murtagh has spoken to John Magnier, Derrick Smith, Michael Tabor, and Aidan O’Brien today and informed them that he will not be renewing his contract to ride as stable jockey to Coolmore/Ballydoyle next season, 2011."

Murtagh had been Ballydoyle’s number-one rider since the start of the 2008 season after the operation had parted company with Kieren Fallon, but had been riding regularly for them since 2007 after Fallon was suspended for a drug positive in France. Among Murtagh’s big race winners for them were Dylan Thomas and Duke of Marmalade in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes; Peeping Fawn and Halfway to Heaven in the Irish Oaks; Henrythenavigator in the 2000 Guineas and the Irish 2000 Guineas; Mastercraftsman in the Irish 2000; Fame and Glory in the Irish Derby and Coronation Cup; Rip Van Winkle in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, the Sussex Stakes, and the Juddmonte International; St Nicolas Abbey in the Racing Post Trophy, and Starspangledbanner in the Golden Jubilee Stakes and July Cup.

The highlight of his relationship with Coolmore came when he rode Yeats to his third and fourth victories in the Ascot Gold Cup in 2008 and 2009. Murtagh’s most recent Group 1 success for them came on Nov. 1, when he rode Roderic O’Connor to win the Criterium International at Saint-Cloud.

Murtagh also rode Coolmore horses for their secondary trainers, David Wachman, Charles O’Brien, and Tommy Stack. Speculation over his replacement includes Fallon and both Paul Hanagan and Richard Hughes. On Satuday, Hanagan clinched the British riding title by a two-victory margin over Hughes, 191-189.