Belfast Telegraph

Friday 25 April 2014

Murtagh crowned king

Johnny Murtagh

Johnny Murtagh was crowned champion Flat jockey for the fifth time with three races of the season remaining at Leopardstown.

Having started the day three clear of Pat Smullen, an early strike on his boss John Oxx's Takar in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF (C & G) Maiden helped cement Murtagh's grip on the trophy.

The 11-4 favourite could be spotted travelling strongly before the turn for home and devoured the ground in the straight to win as he liked by eight lengths from Place Vendome.

With Smullen unable to get his head in front in the following two races, Murtagh was confirmed as champion.

Speaking after Takar's success, Oxx said: "It's great for Johnny. He has been determined all year. It's been a big effort and he has shown enthusiasm and dedication, and is still one of the best in Europe."

Murtagh later doubled up on Oxx's Call To Battle (7-2) in the Eyrefield Stakes, while Smullen at least had the final say with victory on Hidden Universe in the concluding event, the Leopardstown November Handicap.

Hidden Universe's trainer Dermot Weld said: "Pat wasn't the champion, but he rode a really good race there. Him and Johnny are two brilliant riders and Johnny has been riding right at the top of form to win."

Taking the title for the first time since 2009, Murtagh ended the campaign on 83 winners to Smullen's 79.