Sport Horse Racing

Sunday 18 February 2018

Murtagh confident of successful comeback for St Nicholas Abbey

St Nicholas Abbey ridden by Johnny Murtagh. Photo: Getty Images
St Nicholas Abbey ridden by Johnny Murtagh. Photo: Getty Images

Johnny Murtagh is eagerly looking forward to the reappearance of St Nicholas Abbey in the Go Racing In Kildare Festival Finale Stakes at The Curragh on Sunday.

The Montjeu colt, impressive winner of the Racing Post Trophy last year, was sent off the evens favourite for the English 2,000 Guineas in May but only managed sixth behind Makfi, which was retired to stud earlier this week.

The Aidan O'Brien-trained colt has been sidelined since then after suffering stiffness in his hindquarters but Murtagh hopes he can make a winning return in the mile-and-a-half Listed contest.

"He gave me a really nice feel when working after racing at The Curragh last month. He has always been a good homeworker and I'd say he was happy to be back on the track," he said. "Hopefully he can win. He showed so much potential at two, and it would be a pity if he didn't get to show how good he is."

Meanwhile, Meath trainer Gordon Elliott pulled off another successful cross-channel raid by landing the day's feature at Ludlow yesterday.

The Grand National-winning trainer sent King Roonah to the midlands track and under a fine ride from Timmy Murphy, the six-year-old landed the three-mile handicap chase at odds of 15/2.

Elliott's jumping debutant Caracal later finished runner-up under Tony McCoy to favourite Akula in the three-year-old hurdle.

On the same card, Sheena West's stable star Golan Way made an impressive start to his career over fences with a bloodless success in the novice chase.

The six-year-old was sent off the 5/6 favourite for this minor event. He was soon employing his customary front-running tactics under Jamie Goldstein and had all of his rivals burnt off before the turn for home.

It was then simply a case of negotiating the remaining obstacles to score by 29 lengths from Key Cutter.

However, talented hurdler Micheal Flips had to make do with minor honours on his debut over fences at Towcester as Nigel Twiston-Davies' Have You Seen Me took the novice chase.

The former won the Lanzarote Hurdle and finished fourth in the Coral Cup for Andy Turnell last season, earning him a rating of 147 over timber.

As a result, he was sent off the 10/11 favourite for this two-mile heat and travelled well for much of the contest under Nick Scholfield.

However, Have You Seen Me set a strong pace and kept finding more to score by three quarters of a length under Tom Molloy.

Scholfield said: "He ran well and we knew he'd improve for the run. He's jumped a clear round and most definitely has a career over fences."

Irish Independent

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