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Curragh set to pay fitting tribute to Murtagh


Certify with Mickael Barzalona. Photo: Edward Whitaker

Certify with Mickael Barzalona. Photo: Edward Whitaker

Johnny Murtagh. Photo: Anna Gowthorpe/PA

Johnny Murtagh. Photo: Anna Gowthorpe/PA


Certify with Mickael Barzalona. Photo: Edward Whitaker

THE Curragh will host its first meeting of 2014 as the Irish Flat season gets under way on Sunday with the Group Three Park Express Stakes being the feature contest.

Racecourse manager Paul Hensey is naturally excited about the prospect of getting back under way at HQ and he's looking forward to another promising season.

"We start as we mean to go on throughout the year with a quality card on Sunday, the feature race being the Park Express Stakes and we have the Irish Lincolnshire as well which is one of the most difficult handicaps of the year to win in Ireland," Hensey said.

"We are also paying tribute to Johnny Murtagh with a race named after him now that he has retired as a jockey and we'll pay tribute to his achievements throughout his riding career but obviously we are looking forward to many more throughout his training career."

The ground at the Curragh is currently described as soft-to-heavy and Hensey has been pleased with how the track fared over the winter period.

"We haven't had that tough a winter really. We had a dry spell up until Christmas and we didn't get a lot of very cold or wet weather through the winter so it's been quite a good winter and there's a good covering of grass and we've started on a lot worse. As well as that we are racing on ground this Sunday that hasn't been raced on since September."

One of the highlights of the opening Curragh meeting is the arrival of many Aidan O'Brien trained horses to work after racing and Hensey confirmed that would again be the case on Sunday.

"I got a call during the week from Ballydoyle and they have booked in their horses to gallop after racing and that's always a great spectacle here at the first meeting as Aidan generally brings all his Classic contenders and his big named horses. As soon as we know we'll try and let the public know what is going to gallop."

Leopardstown's Club 25 is an initiative that has got plenty of praise on these pages and the Curragh also offer a similar deal for racegoers under 30.

For €100, Under 30 Club Membership allows you to avail of admission to all 18 meetings at the Curragh as well as guest passes, reserved parking, a private members' bar and reciprocal meetings in Ireland and abroad – more details can be found at www.curragh.ie