ONE of Ireland’s greatest riders Johnny Murtagh announced his retirement from riding yesterday to concentrate on his training career.
The Co Meath jockey enjoyed a successful 30 year career, winning three Derbys, four Irish Derbys and five Ascot Gold Cups, after landing his first winner, Chicago Style, at Limerick in 1987.
He rode more than 100 Group One winners, and his last victory in a major race was with Royal Diamond on Champions Day, an occasion he describes as “special.”
"The training side of things is getting bigger all the time and I wasn't happy giving the riding 50% and the training 50%," said Murtagh.
"It's the right time to call it a day and put everything into the training."
Murtagh - who only began riding at the age of 15 - won the Epson Derby three times in six years, the first time on Sinndar who also won Europe’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in 2000.
“It's now time to move on to the next chapter in my life,” he added.
“We have 45 horses in training at the moment, including 20 two-year-olds and we have a few new owners.
“I have the same expectations as when I was riding – the standards are still the same.
“If we get a bit of luck and a good horse comes along, we’ll get there.”
Murtagh also enjoyed great associations with some of the biggest stables in the sport.
He rode as stable jockey for the likes Aidan O’Brien, riding on such greats as Henrythenavigator, Duke Of Marmalade and four-time Gold Cup hero Yeats.
O’Brien said of Murtagh's announcement: “Johnny was a wonderful rider and we had great years together when he rode for us.
“He will be a great trainer and we would like to wish him, Orla (Murtagh’s wife) and all the family every success in the future.”