Murtagh back in business with double

JOHNNY MURTAGH registered his first successes since being crowned champion jockey for the fifth time earlier this month when doubling-up on Fantasy King and Maggie Neary at Dundalk last night.

Murtagh oozed confidence on the Charles O’Brien-trained favourite Fantasy King in the two-mile Winter Racing At Dundalk Handicap before switching the five-year-old to challenge with less than two furlongs to race and quickly seizing the initiative before beating Talenti by a length and a quarter.

Gerry Abbott, representing trainer O’Brien, commented: “He was terribly unlucky here last time and Johnny was keen to fill him with confidence and hold onto him for as long as possible. He won well and might go hurdling now.”

Murtagh completed his double when Maggie Neary, a nine-race maiden trained by Charlie Swan, foiled the consistent but luckless favourite Azores in the Winter Racing At Dundalk Maiden. Swan declared: “At long last! She’s been unlucky, but it’s great that she finally got her head in front.”

Azores’ trainer David Wachman had enjoyed better luck earlier when the classy prospect Aloof, ridden by Niall McCullagh, justified odds-on favouritism in the Christmas Parties At Dundalk 2-Y-0 Race, the Galileo filly proving far too strong for Murtagh’s mount Shukhov to gain a winning bracket.

Trainer Eddie Lynam had double reason for enjoying his trip to Dundalk, expressing himself delighted with stable star Sole Power’s pre-racing gallop, under regular work-rider David Mason, ahead of his trip to Hong Kong for the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Sprint at Sha Tin on December 11.

And he declared: “She’s a good, honest filly and was entitled to win tonight, even if it was hard work,” after odds-on favourite Choral Society landed the Irish Stallion Farms Median Auction 2-Y-0 Maiden at the expense of Tannery, before adding: “Shane (Foley) says she’ll appreciate it when we step her up in trip.”

Foley completed a double when the Michael Halford-trained Elizabeth Coffee, 7lb higher than when scoring here last week, held the late surge of top weight Denny Crane in the Handicap.

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