Sport Horse Racing

Wednesday 13 December 2017

Griffin can swoop to victory for Murtagh

Damien McElroy

Champion jockey Johnny Murtagh, who went agonisingly close to upstaging British counterpart Ryan Moore for Royal Ascot's riding honours last week, resumes on the home front at Tipperary this evening after completing a four-day suspension.

The Meath pilot, who must be tempted to remain loyal to ante-post favourite Jan Vermeer for Sunday's Irish Derby, was disciplined by the Chantilly stewards for careless riding after Cape Blanco's initial defeat in the French Derby.

The reigning title holder and former champion Pat Smullen, both banned by the Ascot panel after the epic battle for supremacy in the Gold Cup, could record a winner apiece at the Limerick Junction course tonight.

Murtagh takes over from Wayne Lordan aboard David Wachman's charge Griffin, which made quite a pleasing debut over this track last month behind Eskimo, and is napped to take the Thomastown Stables Auction Maiden.

A rare Irish runner by top Australian stallion Encosta De Lago, Griffin should have progressed sufficiently to cope with these rivals, the best of which may be Free Art, which ran a close third to Snow Mountain in what looked a modest Limerick contest.

Smullen is leaving no stone unturned in his attempt to recapture the senior crown and might be on the mark once more when teaming up with Meath trainer Michael Mulvany's often-placed The Silver Crown in the following handicap.

The featured Fillies Race has attracted five candidates from 13 entries and Lady O'Reilly's Julie's Jet, which made a winning start to her career at this venue last October, should initiate a double for John Oxx and Fran Berry.

The Currabeg team likewise are represented by a prime fancy for the more competitive Jackpot finale in the Aga Khan's Dalakhani filly Zanoubiya, third to Unity in an above-average Fairyhouse maiden earlier this month and perhaps holding a fitness edge over Murtagh's mount Big Occasion, which hasn't been seen in action since finishing second at Listowel last September.

Meanwhile, Tracey Collins has confirmed that Rock Jock will journey across the Irish Sea again for York's August meeting thanks to his gallant effort at Royal Ascot.

The three-year-old colt belied his odds of 28-1 to take third place behind Rainfall in the Group Three Jersey Stakes over seven furlongs. Collins is now looking at the City of York Stakes at the Knavesmire on August 20. "He ran a cracker and we'll probably now send him to York for the seven-furlong Listed race," she said.

Irish Independent

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