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Murtagh can maintain winning ways on Certerach

On a low-key card at Clonmel, Johnny Murtagh is trusted to land the nap selection when he partners the Mick Halford-trained Certerach in the opening maiden.

There are seven races in all at this evening's fixture, many of which look extremely tricky to decipher. With a number of the Certerach's 13 rivals having shown varying degrees of promise, this 10-furlong heat is one such challenge.

On pedigree, the selection's stable-mate Paddy The Celeb, twice placed over 12 furlongs recently, should not be hindered by the drop to this distance. Specification, fifth on its debut for Dermot Weld at Killarney, is another that ought to go close.

Nonetheless, Certerach's effort to be third behind the potentially smart Singe The Turf at Leopardstown last month caught the eye and the runner-up Jolie Jioconde has since franked the form by obliging at Dundalk.

If Certerach can build on that now, he should prove a formidable opponent under the season's leading rider.

In the subsequent Derrinstown Stud Apprentices' Claimer, Belleau stands out as being thrown in on official ratings.

Just seven contest this, with Paul Deegan's three-year-old filly the top-rated off 71 under Sam James. However, because of the race conditions, she has the lowest weight of 8st 12lb, yet the next best on figures, the 69-rated Curl Cat, must lump 9st 11lb.

Successful in a similar race under James in July, Belleau is expected to be hard to beat.

In the third of the four scheduled Flat races, all of which are over the same trip, Moving Statue can collect for Noel Meade.

A five-year-old that has shown improved form on its first four starts for Meade, he found a mile and a half a fraction too far when just run out of it at Tipperary last time.

Over hurdles, the Denis Hogan-ridden Rodriquez, third on soft ground at Roscommon, should benefit from the good-to-firm going that he will encounter here, with Davy Russell the man to keep on side in the earlier two events.

The Youghal native rides Royal Choice in the conditions race and Giant Sequoia in the handicap.

A game second from the front at Tramore, Royal Choice might have the gears to better the likes of Loch Long and fellow pace-setter Eyre Apparent over two and a half miles, while Giant Sequoia remains unexposed. On its latest hurdling start at Punchestown in May, John Supple's charge was a fair seventh in a decent race.

Irish Independent