Johnny Murtagh and HRH The Aga Khan part company

In surprising news the Aga Khan has terminated with immediate effect Johnny Murtagh’s contract.

The 42-year old jockey took a fall from Lottie Dod and was kicked in the face after leaving the parade ring at the Curragh three weeks ago has not ridden since.

Murtagh is one of Ireland’s most skilled and high profile jockeys and the news is sure to reverberate around the racing world as the Aga Khan is able to offer some of the finest horses in world racing and is thought of as a plum job for any jockey.

Aga Khan’s manager Pat Downes confirmed the news ‘differences between the parties & it was agreed we’d part’.

The Meath flat-jockey has ridden 18 Group 1 winners for the Aga Khan during a previous association as John Oxx’s stable jockey from 1992 to 2003.

His latest win at that level for the Aga Khan came this June on the ill-fated Valyra, who took the Prix de Diane Longines at Chantilly.

Murtagh returned as stable jockey following his departure from Aidan O’Brien’s Coolmore operation, where the flat jockey also enjoyed success, in 2010.

Interestingly, Christophe Lemaire recently signed a new deal to remain as rider for the Aga Khan until 2013 but it remains to be seen whether the signature has any connection to Murtagh’s sudden departure.

Murtagh looks set to start a training when he hangs up his boots and this may speed things up.

The Aga Khan currently has 90 horses in training with John Oxx in Ireland, with Mick Halford training 30.

We will have more on the story as it comes through.

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