Oxx joy at Murtagh appointment
John Oxx is looking forward to renewing his association with Johnny Murtagh after the jockey was retained to ride all of the Aga Khan's Irish-trained horses in 2011.
Murtagh was stable jockey for Oxx between 1992-2003, during which time he rode 18 Group One winners for one of the world's leading owners. Most memorably he guided Oxx's Sinndar to victory in the Epsom Derby, the Irish Derby and the Arc in 2000, and is now back in the job following his resignation as number one for Coolmore last week.
"Myself and Johnny have obviously had a very successful association over the years and when Johnny announced that he was leaving Ballydoyle, His Highness was keen to renew that old association," said Oxx, who has 90 horses in training for the Aga Khan.
Murtagh's appointment brings to an end Fran Berry's brief stint as Oxx's stable jockey. Berry was given the job at the start of the year following the retirement of Mick Kinane at the end of 2009 and although he will not be retained in 2011, Oxx hopes he will still ride for the yard.
"What has happened is no reflection on Fran Berry, who is one of the country's leading jockeys and is currently having his best ever season. We've had a great relationship and a very successful one and he'll continue to ride for the stable when the opportunity arises," the Currabeg handler continued.
"Obviously Fran is not retained by the Aga Khan and presumably he'll be working as a freelance, but we look forward to him riding for us in the future. I hope we have some nice horses for next season. I think last year's two-years-olds were my worst for over 20 years, so we were a bit pessimistic about this past season.
"This year's two-year-olds look much more promising and they've been winning maidens towards the end of the year, so we're pretty hopeful we've got a better bunch of horses."
Murtagh expressed delight at being handed the role, saying: "I am thrilled to be renewing my association with His Highness' horses in Ireland. We have shared some fantastic moments over the years and I have always enjoyed riding in the green and red colours.
"This will also give me an opportunity to ride for John Oxx again. I started off riding for Mr Oxx and it has always been a pleasure to be part of his Currabeg team."
Murtagh becomes the first retained rider in Ireland for the Aga Khan, who added: "We have had some wonderful days in the past and we look forward to renewing our successful association. I believe it is vital to the continued success of my bloodstock operation to have a retained jockey in the countries where my horses are trained."