Johnny Murtagh is delighted to have proved a number of doubters wrong after the jockey-turned-trainer picked up his first Group 1 success with Champers Elysees on Saturday.
Victory in the Coolmore America “Justify” Matron Stakes at Leopardstown was a breakthrough moment for Murtagh and his stables, although the 50-year-old never had doubts about his team.
Speaking on the latest episode of Paddy Power’s now twice-weekly From The Horse’s Mouth podcast, Curragh conjuror Murtagh revealed his frustration at being defined by his former successes and instead wants to be known for his training ability.
“It’s the past tense – let’s move on now. I want to be known as a Group 1 winning trainer,” Murtagh said.
“I believed I had the ability, and I believed we had the team around us that could make it happen. We just need the horses.
“I think this year we have had, with the horses we have, we’ve done a very good job with them and they have improved from day one.
“There’s this mindset that good jockeys don’t make good trainers. I believe I’m a good trainer, I believe if we get the horses, we can produce them on the big days.
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“I’ve seen how it’s been done all my career – whoever I was with, we had Group 1 horses in the stables so I was looking forward to getting the opportunity to have one good enough and to see if I could produce it on the big day, ready to run for its life.
“Saturday there were loads of words I could put down to how I felt [but] it was just a huge, huge relief to finally say yes, everything you’re doing, you’re doing it well and just keep doing it.
“That’s one thing I said the other day to the lads – it’s the biggest day of the year, we don’t need to change anything.
“Just do what you do lads, it’s got us to this point, there’s no need to do anything different. The horses will sense that so just keep doing what you’re doing – it’s got us to this point and I believe it will be good enough and thankfully it was.
And we were there to watch him.
— Horse Racing Ireland (@HRIRacing) September 12, 2020
“With a syndicate of owners, you don’t expect to get a horse like this. You don’t expect to win Group 1s, so when it happens… [you have to make the most of it].
“I met a few of the guys after and they were saying ‘Johnny, this is the best day of my life’.
“I bought the trophy back in and it was like the World Cup had just come home and that’s what gave me as much of a kick as Champers Elysees going past the line.
“It was great to see, and that’s the magic that can happen in this racing game.
“It’s not going to happen often, but at least there’s a chance it can happen.”
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