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Johnny Murtagh: Morselle looks a value play at Dundalk and I’m all over Simple Verse on Champions Day at Ascot

by Johnny Murtagh | October 16, 2015

I’ve a couple of runners at Dundalk on Friday night where I’m hoping Predilecta can improve a bit on his 6th place behind Red Stars at Roscommon but market leaders The Yellow Bus and Lady Lambert could improve on their runs too.

Zylan won a 7f maiden here in August and is joint top-rated in this apprentice handicap. That doesn’t make things easy but he’d have a chance in a wide-open contest while the handicapper has taken no chances with Eye of the Tiger. He got 5lbs for winning two starts back and looks up against it.

Of the best bets on the card,  Dermot Weld’s filly MORSELLE  (7.05pm) could bounce back after disappointing while Ger Lyons’ UNSINKABLE (8.05pm)  may just be worth chancing at the prices to keep the prize at home from Mark Johnston’s tough, consistent Fire Fighting who is a worthy favourite.

Saturday sees Champions Day and the racing is fantastic.  Any horse that reproduces the level of form they’ve shown all summer in October deserves to be called a Champion.

Ascot is a fitting stage for it too – probably my favourite track when I was riding. It’s one of the best in the world. There’s rarely any hard-luck stories as you’ve usually got plenty of time and space to get out of trouble.  But as any jockey will tell you the key to these big days is getting on the good horses in good races. The best horses will usually win in these circumstances.

12.45 Long Distance Cup 2m (Group 1)

Irish horses have won this contest for the last four years (I rode & trained Royal Diamond to win here in 2013) and Dermot Weld’s Forgotten Rules was a good winner last year. He’s been a little out of form since Royal Ascot but the ease in the ground and a step back to two miles will help. Mark Prescott’s PALLASATOR was third here last year and won nicely at Haydock last time. He looks like he’s been trained for the race. Agent Murphy was a remote second to Order of St George in the Irish St Leger where all he  appeared to do was stay on behind the runaway winner – who could be very good. That will help his cause here.

Selection: Pallasator   Alternative: Agent Murphy 

1.20 Champion Sprint Stakes (Group 1)

Charlie Hills’ Muhaarar has won three on the bounce now and looks a real champion sprinter – but has to do it again after a busy campaign. Henry Candy’s Twilight Son is five from five and was impressive in the Haydock Sprint Cup. Both deserve their place at the top of the market.

But James Fanshawe has supplemented THE TIN MAN who is related to Society Rock – a horse I use to ride. He won a course and distance handicap the last time and now has to step up a lot to Group 1 company. He could be a bit of value to outrun his odds.

Selection: The Tin Man   Alternative: Muhaarar 

1.55 Champions Fillies & Mares 1m 4f (Group 1)

Covert Love has had a brilliant season winning an Irish Oaks and then triumphing in Longchamp on Arc day a day after Candarliya won at the French track. But (eventual) St Leger winner SIMPLE VERSE comes here a fresher horse and looks to have a cracking chance.

She beat the colts at Doncaster but I don’t think the step back in trip is a problem and has had an extra couple of weeks to recover. It’s an open race but she looks a bit of value to deliver.

Selection: Simple Verse Alternative: Covert Love

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2.30 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes 1m (Group 1)

French superstar SOLOW is unbeaten in 10 races now and it all seems to comes the same to him from Longchamp to Meydan Goodwood or Royal Ascot. Gleneagles will be interesting if he runs but the ground is on the softer side of good and he’s a real fast-ground horse. This is a mile and it’s a big call whether to risk it now or wait from the Breeders Cup – even if he has to step up to 10f. Kodi Bear is improving but he’ll need to to step up to Group One company.

It will be a shock if he can beat the favourite who looks the bet of the day to me.

Selection: Solow Alternative: Gleaneagles


3.05  Champion Stakes 1m 2f (Group 1)

Aidan O’Brien’s Found has another crack at the colts after finishing ninth to Golden Horn in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe while Andre Fabre – not one to exaggerate – has been talking up his runner, Vadamos.

But if I was still a jockey I’d be trying to get on Irish Derby winner JACK HOBBS . He’ll love the cut in the ground as this will bring his stamina into play. The draw hasn’t been too kind in stall 12 but his pacemaker Maverick Wave is there outside him.

I’d expect William Buick  to sit close to his pacemaker and try and keep it very simple. If it all goes to plan it could be very straightforward for the favourite.

Selection: Jack Hobbs Alternative: Vadamos 

3.45 Balmoral Handicap 1m

Ger Lyons sends over Sacrificial who is an improver but off his Irish handicap mark looks to have it all to do. I’d prefer John Gosden’s GM HOPKINS who was a winner here at the Royal meeting.

Buckstay eventually found the winning groove at this track last time out and could improve again stepped up to 1m from 7f in what looks a very competitive finale to what should be a cracking’s day’s racing.

Selection: Gm Hopkins Alternative: Buckstay

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