Three things we learned this week: 1 Johnny Murtagh hasn't gone away. Having quit Ballydoyle, the Co Meath native was destined to become a go-to man for the big days.
That much was confirmed when he was snapped up by Ed Dunlop for Native Khan in today's Epsom Derby following Kieren Fallon's controversial switch to the Aidan O'Brien-trained Recital. Amidst the legal shenanigans surrounding Fallon yesterday, though, few expected Murtagh to be to the fore in the Oaks on the 20/1 shot Dancing Rain. Of course, he was, delivering a masterclass to deny -- who else -- Fallon and O'Brien with Wonder Of Wonders.
2 Dundalk is finally set to justify its existence. After opening in 2007, the all-weather facility became something of an oxymoron, given that racing never took place there during the winter. It was an absurd situation that left the track idle when it was most needed, but a proper winter campaign is now scheduled. About time -- although we reserve the right to moan about the standard of racing when the time comes!
3 Daryl Jacob is the latest to be handed the poisoned chalice of second in command to Ruby Walsh at Paul Nicholls' yard. Filling in on Walsh's scraps is a thankless role, so it will be interesting to see how the Wexford native gets on. Lest we forget, Noel Fehily, who did so well in Walsh's absence last term, will also be about.
Quote of the week
"I am very boring. I do a good bit of hunting and lamping rabbits. We catch a good few -- that's as strange as I get." -- Joseph O'Brien, revealed this week alongside fellow champion apprentices Ben Curtis and Gary Carroll as Horse Racing Ireland's Flat ambassadors for 2011, divulges details of his nocturnal activities at Ballydoyle.
Outsider to note
Agricultural warrants each-way support at the forecast double-figure odds in the two-mile novices' handicap hurdle at Perth tomorrow.
A field of 10 ensures that the place market will pay on the first three, and there is a lot of dead wood on show here. Agricultural has yet to win in 14 starts, but his trainer Lucy Normile's horses often run above themselves at what is her local course.
Agricultural has shown improved form on his two most recent outings, when fourth in a maiden hurdle at Kelso before being beaten nine lengths over course and distance last time. He has been dropped five pounds for that, so he wouldn't need to progress much further to get involved now.
8,970 The most valuable winner's pot in euro available on tomorrow's domestic programme, bestowing feature status on a 60-90 handicap at Listowel.
10 Number of days that Frankie Dettori got banned for after dropping his hands and losing third place in the Oaks on the favourite Blue Bunting yesterday.
1 Johnny Murtagh's Epsom Oaks tally after yesterday's win on Dancing Rain.
Chantilly 2.08 -- Casamento
Perth 4.0 -- Agricultural
Perth 5.0 -- Chino Valdes
Listowel 5.40 -- House Rules
Monday: Listowel, Naas, Folkestone, Newton Abbot, Pontefract*, Windsor*
Tuesday: Ffos Las*, Redcar, Salisbury, Southwell*
Wednesday: Clonmel*, Beverley, Hamilton*, Haydock, Kempton* (AW), Yarmouth
Thursday: Leopardstown*, Fontwell*, Haydock*, Newbury, Nottingham, Uttoxeter*, Yarmouth
Friday: Navan*, Wexford*, Aintree*, Chepstow*, Goodwood*, Market Rasen, Sandown, York
Saturday: Limerick*, Bath, Chester, York, Hexham, Leicester*, Lingfield*, Sandown,
Sunday: Cork, Roscommon, Doncaster, Salisbury