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Johnny Murtagh: An elusive 12/1 tip for Dundalk and why the Force will be with you at Newmarket

When he's not training winners - he's tipping winners. Top man Johnny Murtagh dishes the dirt on Dundalk and Newmarket's features on Saturday.

by Johnny Murtagh | October 9, 2015

Mark Prescott is a pretty shrewd trainer and wouldn’t travel MARSHA over for the 5.30pm for the fun of it. Go Kart is the highest rated of the Irish challengers but the UK raider looks the pick.

Falcao makes a quick appearance after running a neck second to Way of Light mid-week at Cork. I’ve mentioned Ger Lyons’ strike rate at the track before and ZUBERI has 14lbs in hand of him on what we’ve seen to date. The favourite should win it and there’ll be plenty interested in claiming him after this race.

Usually top weights are the ones to follow in the Nursery handicaps (6.30pm) but TEXAS RADIO at the foot of the weights catches my eye here. He’s slightly out of the handicap but that was improved run behind Snowy Scene at Fairyhouse last time.

My own horse Varrane was behind him that day and we’re claiming 7lbs to see if we can get closer. He’s drawn out wide which won’t help and I’d be happy to nick a place.


The Listed race is a nice contest and Hit it a Bomb was a neck winner over Agent of Chaos in a 7f Curragh maiden at the end of last month. He looks an improver for Ballydoyle and is priced as such.

But Mick Halford’s TONKINESE is rated 94 and he could be a bit of value in the race if there’s any chink in the favourite’s armour.

If Halford’s can’t quite get his head in front of the fav he’s a huge chance with CAILIN MOR in the 7.30pm. She looks an improving filly and won two starts back and the Curragh at 7f and was narrowly denied there last month over a mile.

Racing general

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Dropped down the ratings

There’s two 47-65 handicaps on the card and these usually take some solving but Liz Doyle’s horses are in great form so I’ll take a tentative selection with ANNIE IRISH in the 8pm.

In the 8.30pm, Six Silver Lane gets in as first reserve and looks a player after winning his last two starts at Musselburgh and Ayr. He’s won over course and distance here four times.

But Michael Grassick’s ELUSIVE IN PARIS has dropped down the ratings and can be competitive in this grade.

I’m trying to get a bit of form into my own Yulong Baozuo who steps up in trip to a mile after staying on over 6f the last time. I’d be happy if she could get placed before heading to the sales.

The finale looks a good race. Jessica Harrington’s MACNICHOLSON has been contesting some decent races and can maybe get his head in front here for Fran Berry.


Dewhurst Stakes, Saturday, Newmarket, 3:10pm

This looks a match on paper with the best two-year-old’s in Ireland and England taking each other on. The winner will go into the winter as ante-post favourite for the 2,000 Guineas and Emotionless will have to be very good to down Ballydoyle’s AIR FORCE BLUE .

Aidan O’Brien’s dual Grade One winner at the Curragh travels really strongly in his races and the better the ground the better he’ll be.

Emotionless has looked visually impressive in his two wins to date – but hasn’t done it in a Grade One yet.

It will be a fascinating contest but I fancy the Ballydoyle runner to come out on top.

Cambridgeshire Handicap, Saturday, 3:50pm

The 2m 2f slog-fest is the complete opposite where half the field are in with a chance. Jumps trainers have a very strong record in this stayers’ test. There’s a lot of familiar names from the national hunt code with runners like Tony Martin, David Pipe, Willie Mullins, Alan King and Gordon Elliott who will have targeted this race.

I won this for Tony Martin on Leg Spinner in 2007 and the Irish trainer could hold the key with his three entries on Saturday. He’s booked Ryan Moore for QUICK JACK who looks to go two places better than when third here last year.

It’s always a true gallop and a real test of stamina and you’ll see from half a mile out that everyone is pushing along looking for one final effort.  When I won on Leg Spinner he was on the bridle until we hit the two furlong pole. That’s ideally what you’re looking for in Saturday’s winner.

David Pipe’s LOW KEY won the trial race here two weeks ago and shouldn’t have any problem with the 2m 2f trip in  a race where Paddy is paying the first 5 home each-way.


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Willie Mullins’ Renneti is talented but has he the temperament to match? Everything has to fall into place for him. Gordon Elliott’s Bayan was ninth behind Quick Jack at in the Galway Hurdle and has sneaked in off bottom weight here.

This could have been the plan for a while but I’m not sure if Bayan’s flat form has ever matches his hurdle form.

Of the UK Flat trainers, I would have liked to seen Hughie Morrison’s Nearly Caught prove he will definitely stay this trip. He was was third to Quest for More and Max Dynamite in the Northumberland Plate – and those two have won bigger contests in higher grades since.

If he can last home over the final couple of furlongs of the Rowley mile – he could be a contender.

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