York: Murtagh finally wins an Ebor
Trainer Johnny Murtagh finally won the prestigious Ebor Handicap at York, one of the few prizes to have eluded him in his illustrious career in the saddle. Mutual Regard was the horse that broke Murtagh’s duck in the York feature, with the former Sir Mark Prescott trained 5yo rolling home a 1 1/4 length winner under 5lb claimer Louis Steward.
It was a landmark victory in the blossoming career of the young jockey, who has now won the last three races he has ridden in including today. Mutual Regard, a 5yo by Hernando had won four races in a row for Prescott in his 3yo campaign but had slightly gone off the boil as a 4yo before joining the Murtagh yard earlier this year.
He would win on debut for his new trainer at the Curragh in June before going close again in Listed company behind Pale Mimosa, winner of the Lonsdale Cup here earlier in the week, at Leopardstown last time. Despite this, Murtagh’s charge was sent off a general 20/1 shot for the 1m 6f contest, with recent Ascot winner Pallasator the 9/2 favourite.
Mutual Regard settled nicely in behind a decent pace being set by Dare To Achieve and was still travelling well as the field turned for home. Plenty would have fancied their chances as push came to shove but Steward was looking very confident with his mount as they made their way to the front.
The diminutive Van Percy looked like the main danger and began to battle but Mutual Regard had too much in the locker and came home with a little bit in hand. Elidor, who had met with some traffic trouble late on finished third, with Pallasator staying on gamely for fourth.
Murtagh said: “I never won this race as a jockey, but I was second a few times.
“This lad had been going well at home, he got put up 11lb for winning first time out and I ran him in a Group Three last time and he ran a nice race behind Pale Mimosa.
“I thought a fast pace and one-mile-six would suit him, and Louis gave him a lovely ride.
“I wanted Ross Coakley to ride but he’s suspended – Andrew looked at the stats and said this lad (Steward) is red hot.
“He’s a Moyglare Stud-bred and they get better as they get older. He’s in a really happy place at the minute. Ascot might be on his agenda now, but we’ll see about the Melbourne Cup as he loves fast ground.”
Winning jockey Steward said: “It’s amazing, and I’d like to thank Mr Murtagh and Mr Tinkler for giving me the opportunity. At such an early stage in my career it’s such a privilege to ride in a race like that.
“Mr Murtagh just said to don’t worry where you sit, just get him to settle. Luckily they went a nice gallop, I probably hit the front a bit too soon but when the horses came to me he really quickened.
“He fought all the way to the line and made my job a lot easier in the end. I’m so pleased.”
By Kevin Walsh / Photo: Anna Gowthorpe/PA Wire
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