Johnny Murtagh has been sacked as the Aga Khan's Ireland-based jockey, following recent reports of a fall-out.
Having resigned from his position as Aidan O'Brien's stable jockey, the 42-year-old was in his second spell riding for the Aga, having returned in November 2010
Both Murtagh and the Aga Khan issued statements following the split, but neither gave specific reasons for the fall-out.
Despite this, there has been much speculation that it all centred around the defeat of the Aga's Hartani in the Irish St Leger Trial by Ursa Major on Saturday.
Controversially, the winning horse is trained by Tommy Carmody at Murtagh's Curragh stable, where horses owned by Andrew Tinkler, the chief executive of haulage giant Eddie Stobart, are housed.
Significantly, Murtagh is believed to play a major role in their training and his wife Orla addressed reporters after Ursa Major's success.
Talk of who will now take up the position vacated by Murtagh has already begun, with many bookmakers backing Shane Foley the favourite to be offered the position by the Aga Khan. It would mean him combining riding and training next season.
Regardless of the reasons for Murtagh and the Aga Khan parting company, it is clear that the separation will bring an end to a hugely successful partnership.
Those looking to claim free horse racing bets note how Murtagh’s greatest victory in the Aga Khan’s silks came on 2000 Derby and Arc on John Oxx-trained Sinndar.
This season he won the French Oaks on the Jean-Claude Rouget-trained Valyra, whose tragic death after a fatal training accident was reported on Wednesday.
Hartani was ridden by Pat Smullan on Saturday, with Murtagh currently out of action after he sustained a hairline fracture below one of his eyes when taking a kick by his mount, Lottie Dod, ahead of the Phoenix Stakes at the Curragh earlier this month.
In a statement released yesterday, Murtagh took the opportunity to thank the Aga Khan for the opportunity to work alongside him.
He said: “I was informed yesterday afternoon that my contract to ride for His Highness the Aga Khan was being terminated with immediate effect.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank His Highness and his staff at his studs in Ireland and France for the very successful years we have had together, and to sincerely wish them every success in the future.”
A statement released on behalf of the Aga Khan confirmed the mutual separation, citing the duo's differences.