Mast storms to Mercury score
Friday 26 October 2012
Johnny Murtagh produced Balmont Mast with a fine turn of foot in the closing stages to take the feature Mercury Stakes at Dundalk.
Aidan O'Brien's four-time Group One winner Starspangledbanner, who is being primed for a tilt at the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint, was sent off the 3-1 favourite and quickly got into contention from a poor outside draw, racing prominently all the way under the trainer's son Joseph.
But he found little for his jockey's urgings in the closing stages as Murtagh scythed through close home to win by a length on the Eddie Lynam-trained winner (7-2), who was following up a course victory earlier in the month. Nocturnal Affair took second, with Timeless Call third and Starspangledbanner fourth.
Lynam said: "He's a good horse and he'll go to Dubai. He's in the Golden Rose in Lingfield (November 17) in a few weeks and we'll see about that."
O'Brien added of Starspangledbanner: "He's been running on bad ground and he needed that run. It should leave him spot-on for the Breeders' Cup Sprint. He had a bad draw there, too."
Murtagh and Lynam followed up when the jockey got a nice run up the inner on top-weight Atmospheric High (3-1) to take the first division of the Christmas Party Nights At Dundalk Handicap by three-quarters of a length.