Wednesday 11 December 2019

Recital continues O'Brien dominance

Murtagh: on the double at Navan.
Murtagh: on the double at Navan.

Damien McElroy

Ballydoyle's unique stranglehold on Navan's Trim Maiden for the more stoutly-bred juveniles was further extended yesterday by expensive purchase Recital which responded to a determined drive by champion jockey Johnny Murtagh to justify favouritism.

A seventh consecutive scorer in this one-mile race for champion trainer Aidan O'Brien, the Montjeu colt, which changed hands for €750,000 at the yearling sales in Deauville, fought on well to overtake the more experienced Giants Serapis on the climb to the post.

The runner-up took over from pace-setting Minsk early in the straight and was kept right up to his work by Declan McDonogh before being outpaced where it counted most by what could prove to be a pretty smart recruit for the Coolmore partners.

"He's a big, green horse that stays well. There was no hiding place out there and you could be seeing him in the first week of June next year," said Murtagh's in an obvious reference to the 2011 English Derby.

Two years ago Fame And Glory progressed notably from a similar winning debut in this contest to finish runner-up in that famous Epsom Classic and indeed returned to Epsom this season to claim the Coronation Stakes over the same route.

Murtagh doubled up in the finale on another Ballydoyle market leader, this time previous Navan victor Table Mountain, which made no mistake in the Golf President Handicap after experiencing a troubled passage at Naas last Sunday.

Third to Gimli's Rock in a premier handicap at Naas, the Milan colt took the step up in trip by a furlong here in his stride despite this quick reappearance as he held a prominent position from the outset and ultimately lorded it in the final furlong.

A morning gamble on their stable companion Freedom which looked like coming to fruition for most of the journey later in the Median Auction Maiden came unstuck when Seamus Heffernan's mount was passed almost on the line by Midnight Music.

The season's leading jockey Pat Smullen was praised by Dermot Weld for "a good, strong ride" after emerging best in a close three-way finish as Lady O'Reilly's home-bred Dubawi filly fulfilled the promise of her Curragh debut third two months previously.

In the wars at Dundalk at the start of the month, Danny Grant, who was sidelined for a fortnight with facial injuries, got back among the winners in style as his boss Pat Flynn's Waydownsouth made it four victories from his last five starts when defying top weight in the Lady Golf Captain Handicap.

The locally-based Kiernan family's Mac Tiernan was the horse that foiled Waydownsouth at Clonmel in early September and Pat Lally's charge duly followed up in the later division of this race when making all the running in the hands of Martin Harley.

Similar enterprising tactics likewise paid off for Andy Oliver's White Diamond in the featured Fillies Handicap to the delight of Ben Curtis, who is now two ahead of defending title-holder Gary Carroll in their protracted duel for the apprentice crown.

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