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Murtagh sightson melbourne





In just his first full season as a trainer, Johnny Murtagh landed the richest handicap in Europe on Saturday with Mutual Regard and is now targeting one of the most famous races in the world with the same horse.

Murtagh was reflecting on Mutual Regard's win in the Ebor at York on Saturday following the pleasing run of Royal Diamond in the Palmerstown House Stud Irish St Leger Trial at the Curragh yesterday and he didn't rule out the possibilty of the former Irish St Leger winner also making the trip Down Under.

"The handicapper has said he has put Mutual Regard up six pounds for winning the Ebor so he is 112 now and hopefully that will be high enough to get us into the Melbourne Cup," Murtagh said.


"We'll talk to the people from Australia but I think the race will suit him as it's two-miles, and usually fast ground. I think fast ground is the key to him and I think he should have a little kick at the end which is what you need to win a Melbourne Cup."

Simenon, who Murtagh rode to finish second in the Ascot Gold Cup and then the Lonsdale Cup last season, just sneaked into the Melbourne Cup last year before finishing fourth in the 'Race That Stops A Nation' and he was rated 115.

Murtagh admitted that an early trip to Australia to take in a Melbourne Cup trial is on the agenda for Mutual Regard who has only ran three-times for Murtagh.

"Maybe we'll go to Australia early and get him acclimatised down there. I haven't spoke to Andrew (Tinkler, owner) about it yet. He is in the Champions Day in England so if we don't go to Melbourne we have that option.

"It's a long way to go but there are plenty of races down there if he didn't make the Melbourne Cup he could still run in and if he was to win they would cover his costs."

Murtagh didn't rule out being double-handed in Melbourne with Royal Diamond, who finished second behind Ascot Gold Cup winner Leading Light at the Curragh yesterday, another possible entry.

"We thought about bringing him last year and nearly went but let's see how the Irish St Leger goes first. I won't rule it out.

"He's eight now but doesn't feel like an eight-year-old."

Leading Light was workmanlike on his first run since Ascot but never looked like not justifying his odds of 2/5 and Aidan O'Brien didn't rule out a return to the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.

"We let him down well after Ascot and it's nice to get him started back. He was having a real good blow afterwards," said the winning trainer.

"I think the lads will like him back for Ascot next year so the Leger looks lovely for the second half of the year this year and he ran in the Arc last year I suppose but the lads will decide after the Irish St Leger I suppose."

O'Brien enjoyed a four-timer on the card with Hall Of Mirrors surprising his stable companion Kingsbarns by claiming the Group Three Royal Whip Stakes and Adjusted took the concluding 1m2f maiden in good style on his fourth attempt.

The highlight on the card was probably the performance of Gleneagles in the Group Two Futurity Stakes which saw him cut from 25/1 into 16/1 for next years English 2,000 Guineas. The 8/13 favourite benefited from a gap on the rail about two-furlongs out and went on to always be holding Vert De Grece by three parts of a length.

O'Brien said. "He doesn't do much in front and he had to go when the gap appeared on the rail.


"You'd be delighted with that and he's a lovely horse and it is possible he could come back here for the National Stakes if we want but he does have plenty of experience now and he has plenty of speed.

"There are other horses to think about as well and it's possible if Gleneagles goes for the National Stakes that John F Kennedy may go for the race that Australia won last year."

Trainer Mick Halford enjoyed his biggest winner yet for His Highness Aga Khan when landing the Group Two Debutante Stakes with 11/1 shot Raydara who could now be Group One bound for the Moyglare Stud Stakes on Champions Weekend.

Halford admitted; "We took her away to the Curragh the other day and she worked very well.

"Shane said she went up through the gears pretty good and he was delighted.

"She's a very smart filly."