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 this 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.
Ger Lyons was in cracking form as he landed two of the bigger prizes on offer on the all-weather track with Lily's Angel and Joe Eile. The former is proving a real-money-spinner, following up her victory in a premier handicap on her first start for the yard by taking the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Fillies Race.
The 7-4 favourite was going noticeably the best in the hands of Gary Carroll as they turned into the straight and after easing up to the leaders, she found a nice turn of foot to go clear for a three-length victory over Devotion.
Lyons said; "She likes the Irish air. She won a nice handicap at Leopardstown and she was bought to breed. The plan is to go for a Listed race here over a mile (Cooley Stakes on November 9) and it could also be on the agenda to go to Dubai. She could have a good year at four if she keeps going like this."
It wasn't so easy for Emmet McNamara on Lily's Angel's stablemate Joe Eile (10-1) in the Foley's Antiques Naas Handicap. The jockey had to be patient as he waited for a gap. It came in time for him to get out and produce a telling run down the otuside to beat the well-backed Russian Soul by a head.