Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 27 November 2014

Murtagh’s title chance in Roscommon

This evening's Roscommon fixture has a Galway hangover look to the flat races at least, with just four declared for two of them on a card that lost both of the scheduled 'chases because of the underfoot conditions.

In contrast, there's no shortage of contenders for both divisions of the Hanley Group Maiden Hurdle and indeed the first three-year-old hurdle of the season also affords patrons full each-way wagering.

In the opening events the season's principals Johnny Murtagh and Pat Smullen have definite chances of augmenting their decent strike-rates at the western venue aboard Estephe and Battimoore respectively.

Still in front in their ongoing title-race, Murtagh boasts a 25pc success rate at the course since 2000 and should make his trip here for the one mount on 86-rated Estephe count on behalf of Tommy Stack's yard.

Superbly bred by Sadler's Wells out of Stack's Irish 1000 Guineas heroine Tarascon, Estephe was runner-up last time at the Curragh to Art Broker and that level of form entitles Mrs John Magnier's filly to preference here over Jazz Blues which chased home Pirate Ship in Cork on a quicker surface.

Roscommon's top jockey since the Millennium Year with 26 scorers to his name, reigning champion Smullen can kick off the session in style as Mark Loughnane's Battimoore resumes in the Boyle Handicap.

Most recently a game second at Ayr, Loughnane's charge previously was runner-up also at Fairyhouse to Lady Look in the soft and should have his turn now as this trip may be on the sharp side for Philosophers Guest.

Eddie Lynam's Panic, which opened his account at Cork on Sunday evening, turns out quickly again tonight in the four-runner Oates Auctioneers Race but will have his work cut out to cope with Lastkingofscotland.

Yet another smart sort by fashionable sire Danehill Dancer, whose progeny have been prospering once more in the mud, Fran Berry's mount has a mark of 94 after winning at Tipperary and bustling up Count John in Limerick before failing to get competitive behind Vocalised at Leopardstown.

Cork trainer Gerry Cully's Gladiole appears the form choice in the Fillies Handicap after having the misfortune to encounter the progressive Magen's Star in Killarney and the modest Railway Bar Hurdle is best left to Surprise Vendor with Ruby Walsh booked for the assignment by Leslie Young.

Meanwhile, Pat Flynn is targeting Bahrain Storm at the Irish and English Champion Hurdles next winter following the six-year-old's two wins in 24 hours at the Galway Festival.

After springing a 20/1 surprise in the Galway Hurdle on Thursday, Bahrain Storm scored on the Flat in the following evening's Guinness Race. “He's having a two-week holiday,” explained Flynn.

“He's out all day in the lovely paddock with his nice rug having a great old time.

“We're definitely going to train him for next year's Irish and English Champion Hurdles.”

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