Murtagh finishes on high note
Johnny Murtagh's Ballydoyle swansong yielded Group One honours when Recital won the Criterium de Saint-Cloud in France on Saturday.
The outgoing Coolmore-retained rider was calmness personified on Aidan O'Brien's colt, which was preserving his unbeaten record following an impressive debut success at Navan. At the rear of the field early on, Recital was one of three runners which found themselves separated from the main pack, at one stage around five lengths off the back.
However, Murtagh was merely biding his time aboard the son of Montjeu. After getting into a challenging position down the straight in testing ground, he pulled five lengths clear of Bubble Chic, with Prairie Star a further two lengths back in third. Recital's stablemate Exodus was another six lengths away in fourth position. "We were delighted and he's made a lot of progress. At this stage he looks like a Derby sort, but he also has speed," said O'Brien of Recital.
"This is a class horse and one with plenty of pace but still a little backward. He will be a big contender next year," added Murtagh. This was the fourth time in nine years the Ballydoyle supremo has won France's final Group One of the year.
Meanwhile, Ed Dunlop's Oaks heroine Snow Fairy landed a huge pot in Japan by winning the Queen Elizabeth II Commemorative Cup. Ryan Moore's mount scooped a bonus of over £1.4m at Kyoto racecourse when turning in a performance of supreme authority.
The three-year-old daughter of Intikhab failed to stay the St Leger trip on her last start, but was in her element in this one-mile-three-furlong Grade One contest. Snow Fairy had four lengths in hand of Meisho Beluga at the line, with local favourite Apapane third, another length and three-quarters adrift of Dunlop's charge. "She put the race to bed in a couple strides. She jumped smoothly and was in a nice position and travelled very well," said Moore.
"I was drawn beside (Apapane) and I thought she was the best filly, so we kept an eye on her. We got there sooner than I thought -- it just opened up, a big gap, so she went to the rail to help her."
"She has a good brain and a very big heart," said Dunlop afterwards.
- There will be free entry at this Wednesday's Limerick meeting, originally scheduled for last Monday.