YOUNG jockey is secured to ride Alanza as he looks set to be Aga Khan’s retainer
SHANE FOLEY looks to have taken the first step to be secured as the next retained rider in Ireland to His Highness the Aga Khan after the 24-year-old was today declared to ride Alanza for John Oxx in Saturday’s Matron Stakes.
Eleven fillies will go to post for the Group One contest which is the curtain-raiser to the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown with last year’s winner Emulous heading the field for Dermot Weld and Pat Smullen.
Johnny Murtagh, who up until last week would have been due to ride Alanza, has now been booked by Mick Channon to partner Laugh Out Loud, who is a Listed and Group Two winner and would look to be a big player with the three-year-old allowance.
Aidan O’Brien has declared three for the race, After, Ishvana and Maybe, while Henry Cecil sends over Chachamaidee.
The feature event has a field of six going to face the starter, headed by John Gosden’s Nathaniel and Ed Dunlop’s Snow Fairy, who was last year’s runner-up.
Murtagh will be on board Born To Sea for Oxx and the Tsui family who own the three parts brother to 2009 Champion Stakes winner Sea The Stars, while Joseph O’Brien will get the leg up on Ballydoyle representative St Nicholas Abbey.
William Buick is the confirmed partner of Nathaniel, with Frankie Dettori replacing the injured Ryan Moore on Snow Fairy.
The pair will be in action at Haydock earlier on Saturday afternoon, before crossing the Irish Sea by helicopter.
Aidan O'Brien has won the Irish Champion Stakes a record seven times, and this year relies upon Daddy Long Legs as well as St Nicholas Abbey.
St Nicholas Abbey was last seen finishing third behind the mighty Frankel in the Juddmonte International at York, while the three-year-old Daddy Long Legs has plenty to find on official ratings. Imperial Monarch is a notable absentee from Ballydoyle.
Meanwhile, Sunday’s Moyglare Stud Stakes aren’t declared until tomorrow morning, but it has already been revealed that Pat Smullen will be onboard the John Oxx-trained and Aga Khan-owned Harasiya, while Johnny Murtagh partners her close rival My Special J’s for Pat Shanahan.
With Dermot Weld not having a runner in the Group One event, Smullen became a free agent and will again team up with the Aga Khan as he did when Murtagh was injured for the Irish St Leger Trial a fortnight ago.
Harasiya is a two-time winner and held My Special J’s by two and a half lengths on their penultimate meeting, however My Special J’s reversed that form over Sunday’s course and distance at the Curragh last month.
With Colm O’Donoghue opting to stick with Cherry Hinton winner Sendmylovetorose for trainer Andy Oliver, former jockey Pat Shanahan was quick to swoop and obtain Murtagh’s services for his stable star.
The ground at both Leopardstown and the Curragh is expected to be good at least for their respective Group One cards, with Leopardstown kicking off at 3.40 for Champion Stakes Day and the Curragh beginning at 2.15 for a meeting which is free admission for all thanks to the sponsorship of Moylgare.