Galway Festival day Two: Champers sparkles for red-hot Murtagh

Tue 28 Jul 2020

Champers Elysees proved far too good for her rivals as she ran away with the COLM QUINN BMW Irish EBF Corrib Fillies Stakes at Galway to continue the irresistible form of trainer Johnny Murtagh.

Murtagh’s charge won a Curragh handicap on her seasonal bow in June, but she made an effortless transition to Listed level in this seven-furlong heat.

Inhale set out to make all, but Champers Elysees was tanking along in Ben Coen’s hands, swiftly moving to the lead turning for home before galloping away in style to win by seven lengths as the 15-8 favourite.

Champers Elysees was giving the red-hot Murtagh his eighth winner in the last seven days.

Murtagh said: “But for a little bit of a technicality she’d be sold to the US and thankfully they (Fitzwilliam Racing) kept her.

“I thought the best was still to come from her and it’ll be the Fairy Bridge Stakes for her next.

“In fairness to Danny Sheehy he said she was flying, and he rides her in all of her work. I was very very impressed and I have to say surprised. Hopefully she can step up, but if she stays the same she’ll do me.

“It’s Fitzwilliam Racing’s track after the likes of Baba Boom winning for them here before.

“Ben has the talent and I’ve a good team of jockeys all told. They just need to keep stepping forward now.”

There was pulsating climax to the COLM QUINN BMW Mile Handicap, with the judge calling Saltonstall (11-1) the winner after a desperate photo-finish with Njord.

It was tense wait for all involved, but the verdict ultimately went to last year’s Ado McGuinness-trained winner, who finished with a tremendous rattle having weaved through from last place under a fine ride from Gavin Ryan.

As well as Njord, who lost out by a nose, Jessica Harrington was also responsible for the third and fourth in Onlyhuman and Tauran Shaman.

McGuinness said: “I can’t believe that we’ve done it back to back and it’s more of a surprise than last year. It was all so close – I was up in the top tier of the stand and didn’t know (if he had won).

“The plan was to drop in and Gavin gave him a wonderful ride. It was serious stuff from him. I was worried his 5lb (claim) would be gone before this race came around, but he’s a very very good jockey and I’m thrilled to bits.

“We worked the horse last week and he worked badly, so we were wondering would we be running him at all.

“The other horse, Current Option (14th), worked all over him, but all the checks we did on him came back fine.

“He’s had days at the beach since, and a full day in the field. He had a tendency to bleed so we have to be very careful with him.”

He added: “Bart O’Sullivan led him in last year, and he’s passed away since, so he’s definitely looking down on us today, and his son James is still involved.”

Flying Scotsman (13-8 favourite) showed his toughness in winning his second race in the space of two days, getting home in a very tight finish to the Handicap.

Successful over an extended mile and a half on Monday night, the JP McManus-owned three-year-old bounced out of that none the worse to win over nearly half a mile less, sporting first-time cheekpieces and carrying a 6lb penalty.

Brendan Powell, assistant to winning trainer Joseph O’Brien, said of Wayne Lordan’s mount: “He’s versatile and as tough as nails. He ate up last night and Joseph said we’d run him again. The cheekpieces made a bit of a difference as they sharpened him up.

“He’s in again at Leopardstown on Friday and we’ll just have to see about that.”

Meala (11-4 joint favourite) put her previous experience to good use in the COLM QUINN BMW Irish EBF Fillies Maiden, coasting home for Jim Bolger and Kevin Manning.

The daughter of Epaulette had finished no worse than fourth in three previous outings and she travelled well throughout before kicking on at the top of the straight and cruising home by 11 lengths from Umneyaat.

“The boss is very happy,” said Una Manning, wife of the winning rider and daughter of the victorious trainer.

“She’ll get a mile and next year will be her year.”

The Harrington team had better luck earlier with Rocket Science (3-1), who was another cosy winner of the Caulfield Industrial Irish EBF Maiden.

Ridden by Shane Foley, Rocket Science easily accounted for 7-4 favourite Teed Up by three lengths.

“She’s one that might stay in training as a four-year-old,” said Kate Harrington, assistant to her mother.

“There’s not much of her, but she tries hard.”

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