Murtagh to be honoured at opening Curragh meet

Johnny Murtagh.
THE 2014 Flat season swings into action at the Curragh this Sunday, 23rd March and the twin features on the seven race programme are the www.thetote.com Irish Lincolnshire Premier Handicap with total prize money of €100,000 and the Group Three Lodge Park Stud EBF Park Express Fillies Stakes.

THE 2014 Flat season swings into action at the Curragh this Sunday, 23rd March and the twin features on the seven race programme are the www.thetote.com Irish Lincolnshire Premier Handicap with total prize money of €100,000 and the Group Three Lodge Park Stud EBF Park Express Fillies Stakes.

Sunday’s fixture, the first of 18 fabulous race days at Headquarters this year, will also include a tribute to honour the riding career of champion jockey Johnny Murtagh, who recently retired from the saddle and has his name added to the historic Madrid Handicap

Afonso De Sousa heads the weights in the Lincoln and the Aidan O’Brien-trained four-year-old could make his seasonal debut in the one mile contest for which 22 horses were left in at today’s entry stage.

Regulation is not long back from a stint in Dubai and his trainer is hopeful of a big run from the son of Danehill Dancer. “Regulation would not want much more rain but the plan is to run him on Sunday,” commented trainer Michael Halford. “He enjoyed his stint in Dubai and is as fit as a fiddle which will stand him in good stead.”

Pat Shanahan has had a really good start to his training career and the Co Kilkenny-based handler has an interesting contender in That’s Plenty in Sunday’s race. “That’s Plenty is in great shape and ready for a run,” said Shanahan today. “There is a lot of rain around over the next day or two, however, and very soft ground would not suit him. We will wait until Thursday before making a final decision.”

Dermot Weld has left two (Stuccodor and Defining Year) in the race, while Shipyard and Indian Icon are two other home-trained horses who are worth a mention. Trail Blaze (Kevin Ryan) and Lord Aeryn (Richard Fahey) are the two overseas challengers left in the race.

The Group Three Lodge Park Stud EBF Park Express Fillies Stakes has attracted 20 entries, including the Aidan O’Brien-trained trio of Dance With Another, Dazzling and Marvellous. Other notable entries here are Euphrasia, Lottie Dod, Maontri, Morga, Vote Often, Wannabe Better and Odeliz trained in Britain by Karl Burke.

The first race on Sunday commences at 2.10pm and the ground is currently Soft