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Guineas good for Murtagh

JOHNNY MURTAGH is aiming for a dream start to his training career with Fort Knox in the Tattersalls Irish 2,000 Guineas at the Curragh on Saturday.

The multiple Group One-winning jockey has been assisting Tommy Carmody for the past couple of seasons, with a string for prominent owner Andrew Tinkler at Murtagh's Curragh yard.

Murtagh has now taken over the reins, but Fort Knox no longer runs in Tinker's colours as after an impressive win in a Guineas trial at Leopardstown, he was bought by Sheikh Mohammed and will run in the famous maroon and white silks at the weekend.

Tinkler will still be represented in the race after he paid the supplementary entry fee for Ask Dad.

"It's a big weekend and we've got a few entries," said Murtagh.

"Fort Knox has come out of his last race well and he's been doing everything nicely. Crucially he's had no hiccups since then.



"He's going nicely at home and I'm really looking forward to it.

"Sheikh Mohammed's team were obviously impressed with Fort Knox and I think a lot of it is to do with him being by Dubawi, who is the stallion of the moment.

"It's a big confidence boost that they left him with us. They saw he was being aimed at the Guineas and we train just down the road, so they probably thought it was for the best.

"It was a tough race at Leopardstown, the ground was soft and there was a real headwind into your face, so he showed a good attitude to win.

"I don't think better ground will be an issue.

"It should be beautiful this weekend anyway as it's good at the moment with a few showers about.

"It will be some start if he can win, nobody can accuse us of not aiming high, anyway!

"Andrew was keen to have a runner in the race, which is why he's supplemented Ask Dad," Murtagh added.

"It's a race that's been lucky for him in the past and he's been placed in it before, so he said we may as well try to pick up some placed money."

Richard Hannon, Jim Bolger and Aidan O'Brien have strong contenders among the 19 horses left in the frame.

Hannon is sending over Newmarket third Van Der Neer and Olympic Glory, who was undone by the draw in the French Guineas. Bolger can call on Loch Garman and Trading Leather, who both finished second in recent Derby trials, with the former his most likely runner of his four entries after finishing second to Battle Of Marengo in the Derrinstown.

"He has come out of the Leopardstown race (well) and the plan is to run him in Saturday's race," said Bolger.

O'Brien has Cristoforo Colombo and Mars, who were just out of the placings at Newmarket.

All three trainers have other possibles, with Hannon able to run Havana Gold, who performed well in the French equivalent.

Bolger also has Leitir Mor, Einsteins Folly and Wexford Opera engaged, while O'Brien has left in Magician, Gale Force Ten, George Vancouver, Forester, Flying The Flag and Pedro The Great.

Andrew Oliver-trained First Cornerstone could make a reappearance after a good season as a two-year-old.

Paddy Power make Cristoforo Colombo their 3-1 favourite.

Irish 2,000 Guineas - Paddy Power bet: 3-1 Cristoforo Colombo, 100-30 Olympic Glory, 5-1 Van Der Neer, 7-1 Fort Knox, 8-1 Gale Force Ten, Loch Garman, Mars, Trading Leather, 12-1 George Vancouver, Havana Gold, Magician, 14 Pedro The Great, 16-1