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Friday 18 January 2019

Murtagh is Lyons' king

Johnny to score for trainer at Leopardstown

Leopardstown continue the Bulmers Live Summer Meetings this evening with Cathy Davey the after-racing entertainment on offer, but before that there is a seven-race card kicking off at 6.0pm.

There's no doubt that when Johnny Murtagh announced he would not be staying on as stable jockey to Ballydoyle last winter it was music to the ears of a number of other trainers who could then look forward to the Meath man's services on a much more frequent basis.

The Aga Khan and trainer John Oxx were quick to acquire his talents on a retainer basis, as was Ger Lyons who has been the most frequent employer of Murtagh this season after Oxx, and already they have combined for 11 winners this term -- a figure that could be added to tonight.



Inexperienced

Bookmakers would be slow to give you a decent price on Murtagh adding at least one winner to his tally of 31 this season by the time he departs the Foxrock track tonight as he appears to have another strong book of rides.

In the opening jogforjockeys.ie Fillies Race, it is the Oxx-trained Alanza who is the most inexperienced of the seven runners having had just the one start so far -- a winning debut at the back end of last season -- but she appears to be a step above the rest and should get favourite backers off to a positive start.

Then Murtagh teams up with Lyons in the Irish Stallion Farms two-year-old Fillies Maiden where Jemima's Pearl is the pick of the three on previous form, although there are newcomers from the Jim Bolger and Tracey Collins yards to keep an eye on.

The Bulmers Live Handicap over a mile at 8.0pm is a tricky looking race with 14 going to post.

Jim Bolger's Noimead Draiochta is an obvious threat after a recent Navan win, but again it's Murtagh and Lyons who are trusted to bring home the goods.

Joe Eile capped a consistent season by signing off with a win at the back end of last year and he started off this one with a decent placed effort earlier this month. With sufficient improvement from that first outing, he'll be in the mix at the business end of things.

This evening's feature contest is the five-runner listed Golden Fleece Stakes where Jim Bolger is double-handed courtesy of Snowflake Dancer and Whip Rule.



Loyalty

Bolger is renowned for his supreme loyalty to his jockeys and with stable jockey Kevin Manning not in action tomorrow, Bolger has entrusted the services of his seven-pound claiming apprentice Ronan Whelan on Whip Rule.

Whelan, who cannot use his seven-pound allowance in the listed race, has been seen to good effect on a number of the Bolger horses recently and should be rewarded with what would be the biggest win of his fledgling career so far.

Whip Rule actually finished second on his debut to the above average Tough As Nails, only to be promoted to first spot following a stewards' enquiry. The colt's most recent start was a creditable effort at Naas, so he should take all the beating.

Aidan O'Brien is already trailing a blaze in this year's trainers' championship and to emphasise just how hard it is to win races in this country he has the frustrating, but clearly talented, Harrison's Cave in the CROSS Charity Handicap over a mile and a half.

The three-year-old was only beaten 13 lengths behind the Group One-winning Pathfork on his debut but failed to get off the mark in his following six starts.

The colt, by the currently all-conquering Galileo should win his first race in the second of this evening's two 50-75 rated handicaps.



Unlucky

The other race under that bracket is a seven-furlong contest where the consistent, but somewhat unlucky, Silly Dancer is selected to score under the valuable Shane Foley for Lusk-based trainer Aido McGuinness.

In the finale, a 1m6f amateur riders maiden, recent third Johnny McGeeney may have to settle for placed money once more as Steps To Freedom looks an obvious choice if returning to anything near the form that saw him win the John Smith's Champion Bumper at Aintree.

The five-year-old will be having his first run for new trainer Jessica Harrington this evening.

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