Wednesday 21 February 2018

Johnny Murtagh colt aiming to trump Ballydoyle

Johnny Murtagh's Altruistic could pose the biggest threat to the O'Brien team
Johnny Murtagh's Altruistic could pose the biggest threat to the O'Brien team
Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

AN unprecedented egalitarian distribution of this year's 12 Group Ones has been a welcome feature of the domestic Flat campaign, but a glance at the entries for Sunday's Juddmonte Beresford Stakes would suggest that normal service might soon be resumed.

Ballydoyle has won the Curragh's juvenile Group Two 12 times in 17 years. This time, there are 11 entries for the €100,000 mile contest, seven of which are trained by Aidan O'Brien.

Of the septet, four boast an unblemished combined record of six wins, including once-raced victors Geoffrey Chaucer, Agena and Illinois.

Ger Lyons' Exogenesis is the pick of three non-Ballydoyle entrants that have already suffered a reversal, but Johnny Murtagh's Altruistic might yet pose the most potent threat to the O'Brien team.

The five-time champion jockey's exquisite renaissance in the saddle has been another defining strand of 2013, but he has also excelled in his first term with a trainer's licence. He recently enjoyed his initial Group triumphs in his new role courtesy of Royal Diamond and Belle De Crecy, but success in Sunday's big race would constitute a new pinnacle.

"Altruistic came out of Naas in great shape," Murtagh said. "He is a lovely horse. We have been waiting for this race for him and we are very much looking forward to Sunday."

Authoritative on his debut last month, Altruistic has merited a Group One entry at Doncaster next month, and he is also in next year's Irish 2,000 Guineas and Epsom Derby.

John Oxx's exceptional trio of Alamshar, Azamour and Sea The Stars are among the Beresford's most distinguished winners.

Murtagh, of course, enjoyed some glorious moments on the former duo, and the 33/1 that can be had about Altruistic going on to Epsom Derby fame is as low as any of Sunday's contenders are in the ante-post Classic markets right now.

Rizeena, 10/1 second favourite for next year's 1,000 Guineas after her Moyglare Stakes coup for Clive Brittain and James Doyle earlier in the month, will tackle Friday's Fillies' Mile at Newmarket, rather than Saturday's Red Mills Cheveley Park Stakes.

A Turf Club referrals committee yesterday banned Waterford handler Brian Hallahan from holding a licence for two years after he was found guilty of registering two horses in training that he subsequently admitted did not reside at his Cappoquin premises.

PJ Crowley, who confessed to training the horses, is not permitted to apply for a licence for the same duration.

Earlier this month, Cork handler Lawrence Walshe was dealt an identical penalty to Hallahan for similar breaches. He intends to appeal.

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