"Personally, it was the highlight of the year" | Johnny Murtagh on the Pat Smullen Champions Race


Raf Diallo
Raf Diallo

16.50 20 Dec 2019


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Johnny Murtagh has picked the Pat Smullen Champions Race as his racing highlight of the year.

Nine-time flat champion jockey, Smullen, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in March 2018 and was undergoing further treatment when horse racing greats came out in force to take part in the Pat Smullen Champions Race for Cancer Trials Ireland in September.

That show of community and support was the highlight of trainer Murtagh's year as he told Off The Ball's Friday Night Racing.

"Personally, it was the highlight of the year," he said.

Great Day

"We had a legends race. The only downside was he got a bit sick before and he wasn't able to ride himself.

"But a great guy, a great day. Another highlight was probably the Curragh - the new development.

"It didn't start well, but it felt like that day, there was a real feel-good factor.

"The industry came together. Everybody in the industry came together for Pat."

Murtagh also described it as "magical" and the viewing as "top class".

"Everything was in place. We had this worldwide industry and now we have a world class venue to showcase it. But it didn't feel like that at the start. It wasn't until that day. I was looking forward to it but it was everything and more. The event went so well."

Johnny Ward also highlighted the emotions of the day with the sight of "grown men crying" and "Pat Smullen and Tony McCoy more or less in tears after the race".

"It was a fantastic day. One of those rare days in sport," he added.

You can watch the full Johnny Murtagh interview above via our YouTube channel.


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Champions Race Horse Racing Johnny Murtagh Off The Ball Pat Smullen

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