Johnny Murtagh’s charge had improved more than 22lb from her Curragh handicap win in June on the official figures, notching a seven-length Listed victory at the Galway Festival en-route to this seven-and-a-half-furlong test – which was rearranged from waterlogged Tipperary last Thursday.
Sent off the 5-6 favourite in the hands of Niall McCullagh, Champers Elysees was restrained in the pack as Auxilia set the early pace, with Pearls Galore racing on the heels of the pacesetter.
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Turning into the straight, Billy Lee was eager to grab a pitch up the stands’ rail on Pearls Galore, swinging wide and looking as though he could have found the winning edge.
However, when McCullagh gave Champers Elysees a couple of cracks, she engaged another gear – going on to win by a cosy half-length, with the pair five lengths clear of British raider Parent’s Prayer in third.
Murtagh is considering a swift return to action, and another leap in company to Group One, with Champers Elysees in the frame for next week’s Matron Stakes at Leopardstown.
He said: “I was so sick last week when Tipperary was called off, but thankfully the race was re-scheduled to here, and I thought the track would suit her well.
“She really improved from Galway, and had a better prep coming into this race.
Johnny Murtagh tells Kevin O'Ryan about his winner's climb up the ranks
“If everything is all right, she’ll go for the Matron. It’s a bit tight – and if this race was on last week, it would have given us two weeks – but she’s tough and hardy.”
McCullagh missed a chunk of the year through injury, but Murtagh was thrilled to supply him with a high-profile winner.
He added: “I’m delighted for Niall that he was able to ride a Group winner for us. He’s a big part of my life and of our team since we started.
“He’s been out injured a long time and has worked hard to get back. I’m delighted to be able to pay him back, because he put in a lot of work early in the year and then missed out on a lot of winners.”
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