Benbecula looks nap material for Murtagh in Dundalk finale
THE all-weather card at Dundalk tonight boasts some interesting jockey bookings.
In the concluding 12-furlong maiden, Declan McDonogh, recently appointed as the Aga Khan's number one rider in Ireland, has his first ride for a John Oxx owner other than the wealthy prince.
The 2006 champion takes the reins on Urban Ball for Canadian prospector Charles Fipke, a horse that Johnny Murtagh usually rides.
However, the merger is indicative of a new regime that will likely see McDonogh assume the role of Oxx's stable jockey, while Murtagh's mount in the same race is equally symbolic of the changed normality.
The five-time title-holder is aboard Benbecula, which represents the Andrew Tinkler-Tommy Carmody amalgamation that he is now so synonymous with at his own Pollardstown yard on the Curragh.
Of the fledgling associations, the latter is expected to come out on top tonight.
Third on its first start here over an inadequate mile three weeks ago, Benbecula previously had some decent placed form over further when last seen in the spring in England. Now that he steps back up in distance, he appeals as nap material.
The other riding development of note is the presence at the county Louth facility of none other than champion jump jockey Davy Russell, whose only two spins on the Flat since his days as an amateur 10 years ago came in jump jockeys' races at Leopardstown in 2010.
Youghal's finest is aboard the Gordon Elliott-trained top-weight Discoteca for Gigginstown Stud in the 12-furlong handicap.
Successful on its last start on the Flat at Windsor in 2011, the four-year-old has a chance off just a 3lb higher rating.
Still, Discoteca must concede upwards of 10lb to 13 rivals, so Jacksonslady is preferred. In good form over fences of late, Philip Dempsey's mare has run tidily here before and is well treated when you take the trainer's son Luke's 7lb claim into account.
As ever, Mick Halford has a strong hand on duty. Mea Parvitas, Won Diamond and Castle Guest are all fancied under Shane Foley, with Won Diamond, third on its Leopardstown bow in November, possibly the pick in the mile juvenile maiden.