Johnny Murtagh Irish champion
Oxx-trained winner seals title
Last Updated: 06/11/11 3:07pm
Johnny Murtagh has been crowned the Irish Flat Champion Jockey.
Murtagh and title rival Pat Smullen were both in action at Leopardstown on Sunday afternoon and an early winner aboard the John Oxx-trained Takar moved Murtagh onto 82 winners for the season, four clear of Smullen.
Smullen's failure to win on Coolnagree in the Irish Stallion Farms E.B.F. Nursery Handicap at 1425 ensured that he couldn't equal Murtagh's tally.
Murtagh was stable jockey to Oxx from 1992-2003, during which time he rode 18 Group One winners for the Aga Khan, so the win on Takar in his colours was certainly an apt one, with the former Ballydoyle stable jockey renewing his association with the Aga Khan's horses this season.
The 41-year-old was winning the title for the fifth time, having previously won it in 1995, 1996, 1998 and most recently in 2009.
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."
As well as domestic success, Murtagh won this year's Epsom Oaks on the William Haggas-trained Dancing Rain, as well as the Qipco British Champions Sprint Stakes on James Fanshawe's Deacon Blues.
Smullen, himself a six-time champion, won the title last season.