Tag Archive for: Shartash

National Stakes in the reckoning for Shartash

Johnny Murtagh has suggested a step up to seven furlongs is on the cards for Shartash following his staying-on third behind Little Big Bear in the Phoenix Stakes at the Curragh.

Shartash had won two of his three previous starts and earned his step up to Group One company when flying home late to touch off Little Big Bear’s stablemate Blackbeard in the Group Two Railway Stakes.

Although outpaced at a crucial stage in the six-furlong event at the weekend behind the hugely impressive 2000 Guineas favourite, he did his best work in the latter stages to almost grab second from Persian Force.

Murtagh now plans to continue campaigning the son of Invincible Spirit at the highest level, with the extra furlong of the Goffs Vincent O’Brien National Stakes back at the Curragh on September 11 making plenty of appeal.

“I was very happy with the run and we are looking at the National Stakes next, all going well,” said Murtagh.

“He looked like he was going to stay seven the other day with the way he stayed on. He just got outpaced at an important part of the race, but we were delighted by the way he stayed on.”

Ladies Church ridden by Ben Coen (left) on their way to winning the Barberstown Castle Sapphire Stakes at Curragh racecourse
Ladies Church ridden by Ben Coen (left) on their way to winning the Barberstown Castle Sapphire Stakes at Curragh racecourse (Brian Lawless/PA)

The handler also provided an update on Ladies Church, who bounced back in style from disappointment at Royal Ascot to produce a career best and land the Group Two Sapphire Stakes last month.

He added: “She’s very good and is on target for the Flying Five on Champions Weekend.”

Irish Leger repeat on the cards for Sonnyboyliston

Sonnyboyliston will be targeted at a defence of the Comer Group International Irish St Leger title he won in 2021 by Johnny Murtagh.

The five-year-old announced himself as a player in the long-distance division when making a successful raid on the Ebor at York last August and then plundered Group One honours on his first ever attempt at that level when always doing enough in the 14-furlong Curragh contest.

His only other outing since came when second in the Red Sea Turf Handicap in Saudi Arabia in February and although holding an entry for the Goodwood Cup later this month, the gelding’s trainer is preferring to head straight to the Curragh on September 11.

“He won’t be going there (Goodwood). We’re going to target the Irish St Leger,” said Murtagh.

“He’s had a few little issues during the year, but we think we have him back on track and the Leger would be his main target.”

The trainer also provided an update on his high-class two-year-old, Shartash, who was last seen picking up the Group Two Railway Stakes.

Shartash, here ridden by jockey Ben Coen (left) when winning the Gain Railway Stakes, could return to the Curragh for a Group One next
Shartash, here ridden by jockey Ben Coen (left) when winning the Gain Railway Stakes, could return to the Curragh for a Group One next (Niall Carson/PA)

The Aga Khan-owned son of Invincible Spirit got the better of the Coventry Stakes fourth Blackbeard on that occasion and will now return to that same venue in search of Group One glory as he looks to cement his position as Ireland’s leading two-year-old.

Murtagh added: “He’s a very exciting horse. He could run in the Phoenix Stakes next time and is also in the National Stakes. He’s bred to stay a bit, we’re going to stick at six (furlongs) next time, but I’m sure we will try seven by the end of the year.”

Shartash strikes Railway Stakes gold for Murtagh

Johnny Murtagh rode many major winners in the famous Aga Khan colours and trained his first one for the prominent owner as Shartash showed a blistering turn of foot to win the GAIN Railway Stakes at the Curragh.

Murtagh spoke of his pride when the Aga Khan sent him his first horses and it appears he now has a flag bearer for the owner.

A winner last time out at Naas, Shartash was nevertheless a big drifter in the betting and was sent off at 9-1.

Shartash (left) was too good for Blackbeard
Shartash (left) was too good for Blackbeard (Niall Carson/PA)

Aidan O’Brien’s Blackbeard was sent off the 5-6 favourite having finished fourth in the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot and Ryan Moore was always to the fore.

Ben Coen on Shartash must have had one or two brief thoughts that he was going to be locked up with nowhere to go a furlong out as he was trapped between horses.

However, a gap appeared just in time and Shartash quickened up smartly to catch Blackbeard just in time.

The pair flashed across the line together but Shartash got the verdict by a short head to be given a 33-1 quote for next year’s Guineas by Betfair.

Murtagh said: “These colours have been very lucky to me throughout my career. We’ve had some great days.

“For His Highness to send us horses was special and to win the Railway Stakes is a great day for the team. He’s a nice horse that is improving all the time and he had to be brave today.

“Ben says he has a good turn of foot and the good ones have a turn of foot. Ben said he wasn’t in a great position, but when he got into the gap he quickened up well.

“After he won in Naas we thought this race would really suit him well. We freshened him up and it’s great when it all comes together.

“He’s in the Phoenix Stakes.”