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Oaks contender Murtagh takes the high road north
It is surely a measure of Johnny Murtagh’s high opinion of New Pearl that he is making a rare journey to Pontefract tomorrow evening – after riding in the Oaks at Epsom in the afternoon.
A helicopter has apparently been ordered to undertake the Friday night trip for the multiple Irish champion, who may well win the Investec Oaks aboard the unbeaten Vow, and follow up on New Pearl in the Diamond Jubilee Youngsters Stakes.
Trained near Newark by David Brown, who had a top-notch juvenile last season in Frederik Engels, New Pearl is considered to be another rising star.
He certainly looked an exciting prospect at Newmarket four weeks ago when he made a winning debut – with Murtagh significantly in the saddle – in impressive style by more than four lengths.
Brown has already earmarked the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot next month for New Pearl, who will need to win tomorrow evening to confirm himself as a leading hope for that lofty target.
As for the Oaks, William Haggas thinks the world of Vow, who won on her debut at Newbury and followed up in the Lingfield Oaks Trial in the mould of a high-class filly.
It promises to be a fascinating race, with Aidan O’Brien’s Maybe, a proven class act who is likely to be top hole now after finishing third in the 1,000 Guineas, and the John Gosden-trained The Fuge, impressive winner of the Musidora Stakes at York earlier this month.
But Vow is fancied to prove the master of that pair – and initiate a long-range double for Murtagh, who will, at least, miss the notorious Friday night road traffic in his ’copter-ride to Pontefract.
Tim Walford may hold the key to the opening St John Ambulance Handicap at Pontefract.
He saddles Talent Scout, who should be coming to his peak after two outings this season. A dual-winner last term, he has slipped to a good mark.
Sardanapalus, a good second at Newmarket on his reappearance, beaten only half a length, looks sure to make a bold bid to go one better for Kevin Ryan in the Constant Security Services Handicap, while Arizona John gets the nod in the Constant Security Serving Yorkshire Racecourses Handicap.
Trained by the in-form John Mackie, the seven-year-old may have got to the front too soon at Haydock last week.
He is capable of winning here, granted a strong gallop and being delivered here late and is awarded the nap vote.
Jumping fans can look forward to this evening’s Wetherby meeting, where Tony McCoy, who rode a double here last week, has every chance of making it four wins this time around.
The most successful jump jockey in history kicks off with Nicky Henderson’s novice hurdler Miss Ballantyne (5.55), who showed ability in her two bumper efforts.
McCoy then rides a brace of Jonjo O’Neill-trained runners, hurdles winner Sagredo (6.25), now switching to fences, and Amuse Me (7.00), who is chasing a hat-trick after wins at Towcester and Newton Abbot.
Finally, McCoy rides for Norton trainer Brian Rothwell aboard Tinseltown (9.10), who failed by only a head at Sedgefield last week.
5.55 Miss Ballantyne, 6.25 Sagredo, 7.00 Amuse Me, 7.35 Tears From Heaven, 8.05 Dj Milan, 8.35 Rash Move, 9.10 Tinseltown.
Today’s other meetings: Ayr, Brighton, Ffos Las, Newcastle and Sandown.
6.30 Talent Scout, 7.00 Arizona John (NAP), 7.35 New Pearl, 8.10 Sardanapalus, 8.40 Laverre, 9.10 Shena’s Dream.
Tomorrow’s other meetings: Brighton, Haydock, Newcastle and Stratford.