Murtagh goes to Goodwood and Deauville with more Group One targets

O’Brien aims at third Nassau Just Pretending and Magical Dream

Jockey Johnny Murtagh. Photograph: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

Jockey Johnny Murtagh. Photograph: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images


Johnny Murtagh’s Group One hot streak could extend to an Anglo-French double this weekend. After teaming up with the Pretty Polly winner Ambivalent in today’s Nassau Stakes at Goodwood, the Irishman travels to Deauville tomorrow to ride Gordon Lord Byron for Tom Hogan in the Prix Maurice De Gheest.

It will be just the second time Murtagh has ridden Gordon Lord Byron whose transformation from handicapper to top-flight performer was one of the stories of last year.

The five-year-old is joined in tomorrow’s race by Aidan O’Brien’s Gale Force Ten (Ryan Moore) as the champion trainer attempts to win the six-and-a-half furlong event again after King Charlemagne a dozen years ago.

Favourite for the race, which is due off at 2.08 Irish time, is the Golden Jubilee and July Cup winner Lethal Force while the main French hope is Moonlight Cloud, winner of the race for the last two years.

Murtagh and Aidan O’Brien teamed up to win back-to-back Nassaus in 2007-08 with Peeping Fawn and Halfway To Heaven and O’Brien fields Just Pretending and Magical Dream at Goodwood today in a race that features the triple-Group One winner Sky Lantern and the Irish Guineas heroine Just The Judge.

“The faster the ground, the better it suits Just Pretending,” said O’Brien yesterday of his Irish Oaks third. “We think the drop back in trip will suit. A-mile-and-a-quarter probably suits her better than a mile-and-a-half.”