Racing week: Murtagh takes on the jumps

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  • Three-times Epsom Derby winner Johnny Murtagh, is to ride over jumps this winter, after being given a jump jockey’s licence by the Irish Turf Club. Murtagh, 35, whose 2005 Derby win on Motivator was just one of his 48 victories this season, is embarking on a jumping career at an age when most jump jockeys are thinking about retiring.

    Mick Halford, who Murtagh rides for on the flat in Ireland, also has a string of 10 jumpers, including the Triumph Hurdle-placed Golden Cross, who won the Leopardstown November Handicap under Murtagh on Sunday. Murtagh says he is looking forward to the new challenge.

    Injured pair in hospital

    Jockeys Franny Norton and Shane Kelly are in New Cross Hospital after being trampled in a seven-horse pile-up at Wolverhampton on Monday. Norton has fluid on the lungs while Kelly has injured his back following falls from their respective mounts, Beauchamp Trump and Wotchalike, in the two-mile handicap.

    Norton is reported to be in quite considerable pain and is not yet well enough to be moved nearer his Liverpool home. Kelly is waiting for a scan on his back but is said to be walking.

    Like-A-Butterfly retired

    Like-A-Butterfly, who won the AIG Europe Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown, has been retired to stud after pulling muscles. The Christy Roche-trained mare was a smart novice chaser last season. This year’s Powers Gold Cup at Fairyhouse and John Smiths Mildmay Novices’ Chase at Aintree were among her successes.

    A daughter of Montelimar, Butterfly did not run for the first time in public until she was seven when winning a Naas bumper in January 2001. She then went on to win 12 of her 17 starts and £320,817 in win and place prize money.

    Beef or Salmon in the clear

    Beef or Salmon was given a clean bill of health on Tuesday by trainer Michael Hourigan, after a bang on the head caused him to be withdrawn from Leapordstown on Sunday.

    The nine-year-old six-time Grade 1 winner remains on course for the Betfair Chase at Haydock a week on Saturday, when he will clash with Kicking King and Kingscliff, who were both the subject of positive reports on Tuesday.

    Fallon set to be AW regular

    Kieron Fallon has confirmed that he expects to be a regular on the all-weather circuit between now and Christmas. The news came on the day he had his first rides on the sand this winter at Wolverhampton.

    The six-time British champion, who rode in Ireland this season as number one to the Ballydoyle yard, claims he will be away at the Japan Cup and Hong Kong International later in the year, but has nothing but positive things to report about his first year back in Ireland.

    His one regret is that he was unable to ride Scorpion to win the St Leger. Frankie Dettori deputised for him at Doncaster as Fallon was required for Oratorio in the Champion Stakes at Leopardstown on the same day.

    Gibson is TV mastermind

    A year on from collecting the top prize on ITV’s Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, Totesport employee Pat Gibson has taken BBC TV’s Mastermind crown. Despite his successes, Gibson is reluctant to try for a hat-trick and enter Anne Robinson’s The Weakest Link.

    Christmas cheer

    A Christmas card depicting a festive Newmarket gallops scene will help raise fund for the Injured Jockeys’ Fund. This year’s Christmas card presents an image of racehorses returning from Newmarket’s Long Hill in celebrated artist Roy Miller’s work, Snow Before Breakfast. Anyone wishing to order IJF Christmas products should call the hotline on 08080 453453 or buy online at www.ijf.org.uk.

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