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Sinndar: one of the great Aga Khan horses ridden by Johnny Murtagh

  PICTURE: Getty Images  

Murtagh: split from Aga Khan was horrible

JOCKEY Johnny Murtagh says his split from the Aga Khan last year was a "horrible moment" in his career.

Murtagh, who rode 18 Group 1 winners for the owner-breeder while stable jockey to John Oxx from 1992 to 2003, became the Aga Khan's first choice rider in November 2010 after he resigned as Coolmore's number one jockey.

However, his association with the Aga Khan ended in August, days after Ursa Major, trained by Tommy Carmody in a yard owned by Murtagh, beat the leading owner's Hartani in a Group 3 at the Curragh.

"John Oxx's [Hartani] was hot favourite and ours was 7 or 8-1. I thought he might run a place and it just happened that Ursa Major came and pipped the Aga Khan's horse," said Murtagh, whose final Group 1 win for the Aga Khan came on Valyra in the Prix de Diane in June.

"What made it worse that I was there with him [Ursa Major].

"I was just delighted that the horse won. Beating John Oxx's  wasn't great, but I was out injured at the time and my loyalty was not broken in any way.

"I felt that I wasn't doing anything wrong. I got a call straight away and I was asked to speak to the manager and that was it."

Speaking to RTE, Murtagh, who won the Derby and Arc for the Aga Khan on Sinndar in 2000, added: "I look back on it now from the other side of the fence and I suppose I was probably naive, but I was only trying to show everybody what I could do.

"I felt very sad. It was a horrible moment in my career, but when I look from the other side, maybe I should have seen it coming a bit earlier."

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