Opening-day hat-trick for Murtagh

Johnny Murtagh took the honours on the first day of the new Irish Flat season by booting home a 879-1 treble at the Curragh.

Johnny Murtagh took the honours on the first day of the new Irish Flat season by booting home a 879-1 treble at the Curragh.

Murtagh won both feature races, the Group Three Lodge Park Stud EBF Park Express Stakes and the Irish Lincolnshire on Ardbrae Lady and Deauville Vision respectively, and also collected on Little White Lie in the Ladbrokes Madrid Handicap .

Ardbrae Lady had proved frustrating for her handler Joseph Murphy last season and she was winless after 11 races.

But that only told half the story as she finished second to Nightime in the Irish 1000 Guineas and had been placed in two other Group races.

She was allowed to go off at a generous 7-1 considering those exploits and ran out a game one-length winner.

Murphy said: “She’s got it right at last, although she is very genuine. It’s great to get a Group-race victory for her pedigree. She is going to be covered this year by Galileo.

“She’s entered in the Gladness and Athasi Stakes back here – the Athasi could be the race for her, but we’ll have to see as she’s in both.

“The Windsor Forest at Royal Ascot might be a possibility, but the ground would want to be soft, she handles it well.”

Michael Halford’s Deauville Vision (9-1) turned the Lincolnshire into a procession.

She had won her final two starts last season and looks to be a fair bit in front of the handicapper on this showing.

Murtagh kicked on two furlongs out and came home eight lengths clear of Charlie Swan’s Crooked Throw, who just held on for second from Mombassa (20-1).

Halford said: “She has been doing everything right at home and giving us the right signs, that’s why Johnny was trying so hard to do the weight.

“I was tempted to run her in the Group race today, but decided it was wiser to make use of her handicap mark.

“Obviously she will have to be upped in grade now and I might look the Athasi Stakes. She goes through that ground, which is a big help.”

The final leg of the Murtagh hat-trick was secured when Little White Lie (10-1) led home a Ger Lyons one-two in the seven-furlong handicap, with Willie Supple beaten into second on Out Of The Red.

Murtagh told At The Races: “I was fit and well after a spell in Dubai, but most importantly the horses were very fit.

“Ardbrae Lady is not the best mover in the world so the soft ground helps her and the trainer was pretty happy with her today.

“She ran in top company last year and on this ground she would have been hard to beat. She was getting a bit tired at the end but she had done all the hard work. I fancied Deauville Vision beforehand but I didn’t expect her to win by eight lengths.

“Mick (Halford) said she had grown in the winter and she had a lot of things going for her, I think she’ll make up into a Listed filly.

“I get on really well with Ger Lyons and thankfully he put me on Little White Lie, which turned out to be the right one.

“I’m going to try and ride as many winners as I can and the stables I ride for are in good form, I’m just enjoying it.

“I’ll be giving it (jockeys’ championship) a big shot but maybe the Mondays and Tuesdays I might look at getting my golf handicap down as it was going so well in Dubai!”

Supple had better luck on Fit The Cove (20-1), who managed to get up in the last stride of the Ladbrokes Card Handicap.

The first race of the new season went to Lambourn handler Brendan Duke thanks to Sammy The Snake (12-1).

The Tally Ho Stud EBF Maiden also saw Aidan O’Brien’s first runner of the campaign but Georgebernardshaw could not trouble the judge.

Duke said: “I knew he would like the soft ground and I wanted to come to the Curragh to find out what we have.

“I’m absolutely thrilled to bits to win at the Curragh. He’s a nice horse, who cost €30,000 at the Goffs Million Sale last year.

“He’d easily win a maiden in England, but we wanted to see what we have. I have nine two-year-olds this year, which is eight more than last year and three of them would be as good as this one.

“My last three runners in Ireland have all won so I enjoy coming over. Jim Bolger taught me all I know and has given me a lot of help.”

The concluding Ladbrokes Poker EBF Maiden went to John Oxx’s Alarazi (3-1), an Epsom Derby entry who won in the manner of a nice horse.

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