Against The Odds: Episode 7 - Johnny Murtagh

Against The Odds: Episode 7 - Johnny Murtagh

Against The Odds Episode 7 - available on the ITV Hub.

Brought to you by Coral, watch Johnny’s story on how he fought battles with addiction and self-doubt to becoming one of his generation’s greatest jockeys in part seven of our ten-part docuseries. Available now on the ITV Hub.

JOHNNY MURTAGH TALKS OF LIFE CHANGING MOMENTS IN NEW ITV DOCUMENTARY

Three times Derby-winning jockey turned Group One winning trainer, Johnny Murtagh, reflects on his rise in Against The Odds - Johnny Murtagh: Creating Belief which airs on ITV4 on 5th April at 9pm.  The show is part of the Against The Odds series, produced by ITV and funded by Coral, which has also featured jockeys Hollie Doyle and Guy Disney, former darts world champion Gerwyn Price, goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel and England prop Kyle Sinckler telling their stories.

The documentary delves into his rise to the top and the fierce mental battle that saw him confront alcoholism and the constant struggle to maintain the low body weight required to be a rider in the 'Sport of Kings'. In an honest account from an infectious personality, Murtagh bares his soul on how he turned his life around and provides behind-the-scenes access to his emerging career as a trainer on the plains of the Curragh in Ireland.

The programme features contributions from his wife Orla, his former weighing room colleagues, Frankie Dettori and Richard Hughes, and top trainers John Oxx and Aidan O’Brien. It is an insight into a sports star who conquered his demons to reach the top and uses his story to inspire others today.

Elaborating on his thoughts about addiction he said: “I was working for a trainer called John Sadler, I’d only met him the week before and I told him I had a problem with the drink and he asked me how he could help. I told him that I didn’t want to live in the Trade Centre apartments on my own until my family came over, and he invited me to stay with him and his family until Orla and the kids came over.

 Johnny also speaks of feeling imposter syndrome early in his career as a jockey, despite his many successes: “I had that fear that someone would tap me on the shoulder and say we know who you really are and you’ve been lucky for this time. That fear drove me on. My head was scrambled. It was mental torture.

 Richard Hughes said of Johnny’s attempts to help him with his own struggles: “Johnny certainly helped me. I was in England and knew I was in trouble and went home and went to my mum and dad and said we’d better give Johnny a ring so I rang him and asked if I could go over. I think he knew because as soon as he opened the front door, the first thing he said was, I thought you’d never come. That was the first day I got better. I wouldn’t be sitting here today if it wasn’t for Johnny, that’s for sure.

 Talking about his famous Derby win on Sinndar in 2000, the first time an Irish trained horse had won that race in 26 years, he said: “I walked the track that day. It was probably one of the first times I said to myself, right Johnny, this is where you wanted to be, this is where you deserve to be. I looked up to the left and the right. It was Epsom. The greatest stage and the first race I had ever seen. I knew coming in at the two furlong marker I’m going to win The Derby. Today’s not the day for anything special, just do what you do every day.

 Of meeting the Queen Mother after his win he said: “We went up to the box. The Queen Mother was there. She reminded me of my granny. She was class.”

Aidan O’Brien said of his ability to create belief: “The power of his mind at that time was incredible. He He used to visualize things in his mind. He’d be thinking about things and he’d go to bed thinking about them, he’d dream about them and he’d say that’s the way it was. Johnny was able to do that and go to sleep. Then he used to be able to make it happen.

Talking about Yeats’ fourth Ascot’s Gold Cup win he said: “You could feel the crowd urging him home. That last hundred and fifty was such a good feeling because you could sit on him, let him free-wheel to the line, just let the horse get the plaudits he deserved. My thinking was I deserve to be here. I’ve worked hard enough to be here. You’re the man for big days.

 When asked about the difference between being a trainer and a jockey he said: “Some people have asked me on the difference between being a trainer and a jockey - at least you can eat as a trainer!

On the moment he decided to quit as a jockey in early February in 2014 he said:  "I woke up one morning in early February, the first time ever and I said I don’t think I’ll be able to give this 100% each to the training and the riding. I knew it in my heart and soul. I didn’t tell Orla first, I had to bounce it off Adrian McGoldrick, because if I told her she’d have got me back in for sure! There were loads of times in my career when I thought, that’s it I’m finished, I can’t do it anymore and Orla always got me back, but I knew this time I didn’t want to get back.”

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