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Murtagh will keep strong links with Oxx after Khan axe

By Richard Forristal

Johnny Murtagh will continue to ride for trainer John Oxx for the remainder of the season — despite the jockey's split with leading owner and breeder the Aga Khan.

Murtagh's contract to ride the Aga Khan's Irish-based horses was terminated last week, with the owner's stud farm manager Pat Downes citing "differences between the parties."

The 42-year-old can no longer ride Oxx's Aga Khan-owned string, but the Currabeg handler said he will still use the rider for his other horses.

Murtagh is currently sidelined after a fall at the Curragh last month, but is set to partner the Oxx-trained Born To Sea in Saturday's Red Mills Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown.

"All being well, he'll be riding Born To Sea on Saturday and he will ride our horses for other owners for the remainder of the year, where appropriate," said Oxx.

"He was not retained by anybody other than the Aga Khan, so he is effectively a freelance now.

"He can choose what he wants to ride, but hopefully he'll be on a good few of ours for the rest of this season.

"He's been riding work and I think he's due to see the doctor Tuesday or Wednesday so he can get clearance to ride again.

"I think he'd quite like to ride on Wednesday so he is nice and sharp for the weekend."

Meanwhile Nathaniel and Snow Fairy appear among the 12 entries for Saturday's Red Mills Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown.

John Gosden has decided on Ireland's most prestigious race as the next port of call for Nathaniel, the Coral-Eclipse hero who was just run down by Danedream in the King George at Ascot last time.French gelding Cirrus Des Aigles has not been confirmed, but Ed Dunlop's Snow Fairy is among the potential opposition after her thrilling return from injury at Deauville recently.

Aidan O'Brien — who will be looking for his eighth victory in the Group One over a mile and a quarter — has six of the field in St Nicholas Abbey, Robin Hood, Imperial Monarch, Treasure Beach, Windsor Palace and Daddy Long Legs.

Dermot Weld has Ribblesdale winner Princess Highway and prolific veteran Famous Name, while the Jim Bolger-trained Light Heavy and John Oxx's Born To Sea complete a strong line-up.

Meanwhile, Andrew Oliver's Uleavemebreathless got off the mark at the second time of asking in the Median Auction Fillies' Maiden at Roscommon yesterday.

Maude Adams produced a strong late surge to land the Fillies' Handicap.

Belfast Telegraph


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