Four-timers puts Murtagh ahead
REPORT: DUNDALK, Monday evening
THERE was no better tonic than a return to Dundalk to put Johnny Murtagh back in control at the top of the jockeys' championship.
Having trailed Fran Berry by one going into the evening, a four-timer saw him leading by two at the halfway point of thenight, but he had to share the limelight with the track's leading trainer Ger Lyons, who carded a four-timer of his own.
The twice-raced Achak got his head in front on the line in the juvenile colts maiden for owner Sean Jones despite drifting left inside the last and slightly hampering fourth-homeLista Lightning.
Lyons said: “He's a big, green horse that needs to grow into his frame. This race wasn't really on his agenda, it was an extra meeting and we said we'd take it. That's more than likely it for the season and we'll have a nice horse for next year.”
Murtagh completed a treble, and Lyons his double, in the 6f handicap as the prolific Turk won his fourth race of the season and his first over this trip when drawing clear inside the last furlong.
“This isn't his ideal trip,” admitted Lyons, adding: “I told Johnny to take his time and give him a chance, which he did. The fact that this was a three-year-olds' race was the attraction. He's been a revelation this season. He's in the horses in training sale at Newmarket – but that might well be revised!”
The opening juvenile fillies' maiden provided the most impressive performance of the evening where Murtagh partnered the Fusaichi Pegasus filly Pursuit Of Glory to victory. Quickening impressively through a gap a furlong out, she settled the race in a couple of strides and went right away for a six-length victory.
“She's a nice filly,” said winning trainer David Wachman in meaningful fashion. “A good temperament and finds everything very easy. She wants a sound surfacewhich is why we brought her here. She'll step up to stakes company next.”
Lyons completed a treble when Kinetic Quest battled on strongly in the mile nursery, under Emmett McNamara, about whom Lyons said: “It was a good ride – we're trying to keep him going in the apprentices' championship and it's important to get him winners.”
The pair went on to complete four-timers courtesy of Ashka This filly had been frustrating and unlucky in similar degrees, but the trainer's perseverance in trying to find a winnable maiden finally paid dividends as she ran out an easy four and a half length winner of this contest.
“She deserved that, she's been a model of consistency. We'll probably give her one more run and try to find a little handicap for her somewhere” said Lyons, for whom this was his first four-timer on one card. The filly is the first horse to sport the colours of Dublin-based owner Charlie Harvey.
Murtagh's main rival for the jockey's championship Fran Berry fought back well with a 31-1 double of his own to leave him with 69 winners on the season, one behind Murtagh at the close of play.
He initiated that when giving Headford View a fine patient ride to land the mile fillies handicap, the most valuable race of the night. The daughter of Bold Fact was following up her win here of a couple of weeks back, and nothing was broader than the grin of winning trainer James Halpin whose last three runners have all won.
“She loves it round here, that's three wins in five starts and she's been placed the other two times” he said, adding: “she's small but she's all heart and we'll be taking it one step at a time.”
Berry completed his double in the first division of the 1m 2f handicap on Wings Of Dawn for trainer David Marnane and his wife Melanie. “We'll try to find something similar in that bracket. She'll go to the horses in training sale at Newmarket and might make a nice hurdlerfor someone” said the winning trainer, continuing his best ever season with his eighteenth winner.
Joanna Morgan almost ran Dbest out of frustration in the second division of this handicap,but it was well directed frustration as the admirable 8yo won the thirteenth race of his career. He battled on well under Pat Smullen to beat Barndeh by just over a length.
“We've been waiting on the ground and I was so frustrated I ran him here” said the winning trainer. She added: “he wants fences and hurdles. The only good thing is that we had good ground up to Christmas last year and he was out in the field at that stage. You can bet he'll be staying in until Christmas this year!”
Ger Lyons and Johnny Murtagh gave a preview of what we can expect to see plenty of on Friday nights over the coming months as they both carded superb four-timers.
Quote of the day
“Thanks lads. I'll be signing autographs later!” said the exuberant James Halpin after Headford View landed the featured fillies handicap.