11/16/2010 11:10AM

Murtagh takes post with Aga Khan

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Johnny Murtagh, whose relationship with Coolmore and Aidan O’Brien will cease at the end of the year, has been hired by the Aga Khan as his No. 1 rider in Ireland. Murtagh will now be first in line for the 120 of the Aga’s horses trained in Ireland by John Oxx and Michael Halford.

Murtagh replaces Fran Berry, who had inherited the position this year following the retirement of Michael Kinane. Berry will continue to ride for the Aga Khan when needed. Christophe Lemaire is the Aga Khan’s contract rider in France, where his horses are trained by Alain de Royer-Dupre.

Coolmore has yet to name a replacement for Murtagh, who announced that he was leaving on Nov. 8, since when he has ridden Recital to victory for Coolmore in the Group 1 Criterium de Saint-Cloud. The French-based Belgian Christophe Soumillon is the favorite with British bookies to be named to the Coolmore position, although Soumillon has been mum on the possibility.