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Trainer Johnny Murtagh hails a terrific treble after Red Kelly's Derby success

 

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Jockey Shane Kelly aboard Red Kelly after winning the Ulster Derby

Jockey Shane Kelly aboard Red Kelly after winning the Ulster Derby

Jockey Shane Kelly aboard Red Kelly after winning the Ulster Derby

It was Johnny Murtagh's day at Down Royal yesterday as Red Kelly won the Ulster Derby to help him rack up a hat-trick.

The trainer and former jockey, who won the feature aboard Masilia 19 years ago, was all smiles after watching Shane Kelly bring home the 9/4 favourite.

Red Kelly powered home on the outside to claim the province's premier flat race and beat Sunchart, who had attempted to make all, with Baby Zeus in third.

Murtagh, who also saw Kelly take victory in a two-year-old contest with Measure of Magic and She's Our Queen winning the fillies' maiden, said: "The handicapper has his job to do.

"You can't blame a horse that is improving. I don't think there are too many horses in Ireland that get 21lb - he was proved right. We'll see what he gives him again, he has a job to do.

"We think he is a big baby and whatever he does this year he is sure to improve. I had a lot of big horses last year and that is why we are having such a good year this year.

"I did fancy him. I thought it was going to be tough. He is after winning the Ulster Derby, so he's probably a pretty smart horse. The second horse (Sunchart) ran in the Irish Derby so it was a good race. The best two horses were in the front two."

The Ulster Oaks looked an above average renewal.

Top jockey Wayne Lordan certainly earned his riding fee as he was hard at work on the Aidan O'Brien-trained Elizabethofaragon from the top of gravel hill, and only in the dying strides did he deny the front-running favourite Wilderness, who lost nothing in defeat.

The winner looks to be suited by a longer trip and the runner-up - winner of her previous three efforts - should soon be back in the winners enclosure.

Lordan said: "It was a mile and a half the last day and she was coming back two furlongs, so it wasn't going to be ideal here on a track like this because it is quite sharp. She had to dig deep and she fought hard for me. She is by Galileo and you never know when they stop improving. You wouldn't know where she would end up."

Rookie trainer Paul Traynor, based at Dundrod, sent out Shumaker to record a local victory over the same distance as the Oaks.

The winner won at Ballinrobe on Monday and defied a 12lb penalty to score readily with Joe Sheridan again in the saddle. The local horse, owned by the trainer's partner Karen McNeilly, got a dream run up the inside two furlongs out to justify strong market support.

McNeilly said: "We are aiming for something in Galway - we have hurdles and flat to consider. Shumaker has just proved to be an absolute star of the yard. We are aiming for a hurdle race in Galway for him."

Belfast Telegraph