Murtagh in bid for Glory
Johnny Murtagh believes Fame And Glory heads into Sunday's Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby an improved performer as he bids to turn the tables on Epsom conqueror Sea The Stars.
After victories in the Ballysax Stakes and the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial, Fame And Glory was sent off favourite for Epsom's Investec Derby, but he had to make do with the runner-up spot behind John Oxx's 2000 Guineas hero.
Murtagh rode fourth home Rip Van Winkle that day but as that colt is set to line up in the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown on Saturday week, the Ballydoyle stable jockey is ready to switch to Fame And Glory in the Irish Classic.
“At Epsom it was a good even pace all the way, but I think Mick (Kinane) decided at the top of the hill that he was going to ignore the two horses in front and he knew Sea The Stars was going to pick them up at any time,” Murtagh said. “He really dictated the race to the rest of us and there is not much you can do then — you just have to sit and suffer.
“Take nothing away from Sea The Stars as he was a very good winner on the day and he's now won the Guineas and the Derby. The Epsom Derby winner doesn't always win the Irish Derby, but they have a good record in it.
“I'm not going to give up on our horses yet as we've got two horses with massive chances in Fame And Glory and Masterofthehorse (third at Epsom) and they have definitely improved.
“I think the Curragh will suit them as it's a big, galloping track and it will be a good test so hopefully we can put it up to Sea The Stars. I'm going to stick with Fame And Glory as I think he's definitely improved at home from Epsom and he's very solid.”
Fame And Glory is just one of 10
entries for Aidan O'Brien in the Group One contest. Many judges have questioned the Epsom form due to the lack of pace and O'Brien believes the answers will be provided at the Curragh on Sunday.
Meanwhile, the considerable bonus of guaranteed nomination for the Filly And Mare Turf race during November's Breeders Cup meeting in California could yet tempt the connections of Look Here to the Curragh on Saturday.
Ralph Beckett's English Oaks heroine of last season could tackle the Audi Pretty Polly Stakes.
This Group One contest over 10 furlongs against her own sex would seem a more tempting engagement for Beckett's stable star than meeting the colts again in the Coral-Eclipse Stakes a week later at Sandown.
This Audi promotion is the first of four Irish races that carry automatic inclusion at the Breeders Cup and thanks to the exploits of Beckett's Muhannak at Santa Anita last year, they include Dundalk's Diamond Stakes in October.
That contest, not surprisingly, has been upped from Listed level to a Group Three, principally because Muhannak and Irish cham
pion Pat Smullen progressed from that all-weather win to land the inaugural Breeders Cup Marathon.
Their trainer has already indicated that Look Here could be just as effective over a mile and a quarter as 12 furlongs, so Saturday's highlight could be the ideal race to put that theory to the test.
John Gosden's Dar Re Mi and last week's Ascot runner-up Heaven Sent for Michael Stoute have the same option available as John Oxx confirmed his intention to start Katiyra off here for her four-year-old campaign.
The Aga Khan's home-bred hasn't been seen in public since finishing a creditable third at Longchamp's Arc meeting last October in the Prix de l'Opera.
“She's pretty fit and ready to give a good account of herself,” was Oxx's summary of her readiness for the Pretty Polly Stakes mission in which she could again encounter Jim Bolger's Ascot disappointment Lush Lashes.
The Coolcullen handler can choose between Kitty Kiernan and Eireannach for Sunday's Group Two Netjets Railway Stakes that has tempted Ger Lyons to supplement Love Lockdown.