Friday 20 April 2018

Factum can lift Murtagh's title ambition

Damien McElroy

It's back to basics tomorrow for the title-chasing Irish jockeys at Dundalk when the unrelenting quest for winners, which won't be ending until the second week in December at the all-weather track, brings them into competition again on a modest card.

Title-holder Johnny Murtagh and keen rival Fran Berry invariably make their journeys to the Louth venue worthwhile and they could do with more of the same as they each trail Pat Smullen by five winners (69-64).

The seemingly progressive Aidan O'Brien-trained Storm Cat colt Factum, as well as more recent Cork debut runner-up Warning Flag from David Wachman's stable, could turn out to be the pick of Murtagh's book of rides here in the afternoon's juvenile events.

Bright Horizon could respond positively to first-time cheekpieces and thus sustain teenager Joseph O'Brien's hopes of capturing the apprentice title despite conceding weight all round in the Fairways Hotel Handicap.

Dermot Weld's Endless Expanse, which has scored here before, looks a live threat for Pat Smullen to Bright Horizon and the Offaly pilot should be in the frame with Joanna Morgan's course and distance victor Jigalo in the Oriel Handicap even if Berry could hold sway instead with Striking Force.

Irish Independent

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