Curtis draws level in title race
Ben Curtis is back on level terms with Gary Carroll in the race for the Irish apprentices' title after bagging a double at Dundalk yesterday.
Wins aboard the Garvan Donnelly-trained Home Secretary and John Murphy's Valbonne saw Curtis move on to 39 winners for the season -- the same total as reigning champion Carroll.
Joseph O'Brien, on 35 winners, has an uphill task on his hands after failing to trouble the judge aboard all of his rides.
The afternoon began well for Carroll, when the Kildare youngster shone aboard Sampers in the Group Discounts At Dundalk Stadium Race, the Mick Halford-trained inmate taking the six-furlong affair by a length and a quarter.
Curtis, however, roared back in the next race when outsider Valbonne scored in division one of the fillies' maiden, in which Aidan O'Brien's well-backed newcomer Amazing Beauty -- ridden by son Joseph -- ran very green in fourth.
Curtis later put the seal on a good day's work when Home Secretary hit the target in the closing 11-furlong handicap.
Fran Berry was also in double form after striking aboard Michael Browne's Ability N Delivery in the opening sprint handicap and then leading home John Oxx newcomer Kirinda in the second division of the juvenile fillies' maiden.
Pat Smullen had to settle for second on Dermot Weld's Maunsells Duke behind the Michael Butler-trained Haveahaarth in the one-mile handicap, but the former champion looks odds-on to regain the crown thanks to his victory aboard Weld's Zulu Principle at the Louth venue on Saturday.
The Offaly man is now on the 93-winner mark.