It may be a very long time before the full story behind Johnny Murtagh's shock resignation as stable jockey to the tremendously powerful Ballydoyle yard of Aidan O'Brien becomes known, but the highly popular Irish jockey signed off in the best possible fashion when partnering O'Brien's Recital to an effortless success in the Group 1 Criterium de Saint-Cloud, the last top grade race of the French Flat season, writes Elliot Slater.
Murtagh's three-year stint as stable jockey at Ballydoyle has seen him partner a staggering 39 group 1 winners, as well as many other high profile successes around the globe in what outwardly appeared to be a rock solid partnership between jockey, trainer and owners John Magnier, Michael Tabor and Des Smith. Maybe Murtagh decided he didn't want to have to bear the pressure of partnering so many top notch horses on which massive expectations were placed by connections and the public, but we may never know the full picture. It was certainly a decision that shocked people who track Irish horse racing tips.
Recital catapulted himself firmly in the ante-post picture for next year's Epsom Derby, improving smoothly on the bridle having been held up at the rear of the field, to take up the running at the furlong marker and coast clear in the manner of a potentially high-class performer and he could be one of the most solid betting tips in future years.
Yet another Group 1-winning son of Montjeu, Recital is now as short as 14/1 for the 2011 Derby, although Sportingbet are holding out at a standout 20/1, a price that appears to offer plenty of value for a horse who is closely related to a number of decent group winners and who boasts the right connections for serious consideration as a genuine Derby hope.