Tuesday 23 January 2018

Resurgent Murtagh in the Hunt for more success at Fairyhouse

Johnny Murtagh
Johnny Murtagh
Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

Johnny Murtagh's runners have turned a corner recently and the former top-class champion jockey heads to Fairyhouse tonight with a couple of live contenders.

Having gone over five months without a winner, the fledgling Curragh handler has struck four times in the space of a few weeks, including when Duca Valentinois scored at the Curragh on Saturday under Richard Hughes.

Murtagh's runners appear to be hitting full tilt at the right time, so Hunt appeals for the Navan native in the €16,000 conditions race at the Co Meath venue.

Just seven go to post for the six-furlong contest, and, on a blunt line through Ortiga, Dermot Weld's Morselle might have the selection's measure. She beat Ortiga by a length-and-a-half over seven furlongs at Dundalk recently in a quicker time than Hunt did when just holding on to deny the same filly last month.

However, whereas Morselle got a nice lead into her race, Hunt had to cut out all his own running. In contrast to Morselle, he was also conceding five pounds to the runner-up, and it looked as though seven furlongs was as far as he wanted to go. All told, then, the Gary Carroll-ridden Hunt is interesting back over six, notwithstanding that he must concede three pounds this time to Morselle. Jim Bolger's Penny Pepper is another threat, but Murtagh's Dark Angel gelding, which was just thwarted by Derby contender Success Days at Gowran Park last year, is the one with ticks in the most boxes.

Murtagh's other runner is Lunada in the 10-furlong maiden, a Raven's Pass filly that emerged with plenty credit when fourth to Magician's sister Outstanding on her debut at Naas.


She is likely to be a real player, but Weld introduces a Fastnet Rock filly called Zhukova out of his 2006 1,000 Guineas heroine Nightime that is bred to be very smart. Murtagh's fellow Meath man Ger Lyons could take the juvenile maiden with Mint Chai, while his Chenega Bay has nap appeal in the seven-furlong maiden.

This Kodiac gelding has twice got outpaced over a mile before staying on to be second, so aggressive tactics over this trip might be ideal for Colin Keane's promising mount.

Irish Independent

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