Johnny Murtagh was offered by some shrewd observers as a trainer to follow this year and he has certainly delivered on that confidence, maintaining an astonishing run of form in the last week in particular.
Lady Maura (10/3f) looks a potentially smart addition to the sprinting ranks on the evidence of her facile Kilberry Handicap triumph at Navan.
Ridden by Gary Halpin, the Muhaarar filly appeared to enjoy the stiff five furlongs and rain-eased going and the issue was settled very quickly to give Murtagh his 11th win of the campaign.
“I was worried about the ground with her” Murtagh admitted. “I’m glad we got a win into her because I was worried about the trip. We tried six, we tried seven but Niall McCullagh said she was all speed and Gary rode her work the other day and was happy with her.
“It probably wasn’t a great race but you couldn’t be more impressed with what she did today.
“We’ll see what the handicapper does. You’d love to go another three-year-old sprint to get her to learn how to sprint before she goes in against the older ones.
“Big thanks to (owners) Mark and Aisling Gittins, who sent her to me. She’d a good winter. She came back in good shape and I’m delighted they’re getting a few winners on the board now because they’ve had huge investment in racing in recent years.
“Last year we’d a great year but we’d loads of seconds. This year, all them seconds are winning. The lads are working hard at home, the horses were in great form. The races just seem to be there for them.”
It was a good day for trainers more noted for their National Hunt prowess, as Noel Meade, Gordon Elliott and Tony Mullins all scored.
Illetas (5/4f) was very gutsy and showed a likeable attitude in responding to Luke McAteer’s urgings, despite being one of the first under pressure, to prevail in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Maiden for three-year-olds for Mullins, having been second at the track 13 days before.
It was a second Flat success in as many days for Elliott, when Chris Hayes delivered Lalipour (25/1) from out with the washing to deny the unfortunate Aasleagh Fawn in the dying strides of the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Maiden for three-year-olds and upwards.
Gary Carroll looked to have done everything right on Aasleagh Fawn but having appeared to see off allcomers resolutely, was nabbed in the shadow of the lollipop.
Noel Meade has made a noteworthy return to Flat competition in the past couple of seasons and Elysium (12/1) certainly caught the eye when overcoming a tardy break to bag the Foran Equine Irish EBF Auction Maiden for juvenile fillies.
A winner for first-crop sire Belardo, Elysium stayed on very strongly having been brought with a smooth run by Colin Keane, with Giselles Thunder a length and three quarters back in second.
Paddy Harnett capitalised on picking up a late spare from Denis Hogan by garnering the NavanRacecourse.ie Handicap, as Boughtinthedark (5/1) made light of a 16lbs hike from a course and distance victory.
Others to enjoy the journey to Navan were Laws Of Indices for Ken Condon and Billy Lee, Hy Brasil for Joseph O’Brien and Shane Crosse and Walking On Glass for the unrelated Roche duo, Padraig and Leigh.