Big Weekend: The Stories Behind the Irish Fixtures this Weekend at The Curragh and Navan

Friday, June 07, 2019
The Stories Behind the Irish Fixtures this Weekend at The Curragh and Navan

Nuggy bows out at the Curragh

It will not garner the headlines accorded to recently-retired jockeys Ruby Walsh and Pat Smullen but that exalted duo would be among the first to wish Robert ‘Nuggy’ Rusk best wishes as he brings 45 years as a jockeys’ valet to a conclusion this evening at the Curragh.

A native of Kildare town, where he still lives, Nuggy has been tending to the needs of jockeys like Walsh and Smullen most of his life, ensuring they have all the necessary clean tack and gear ready to go as they come in from one race and make the turnaround for another.

Valets are among the unsung heroes of the racing world and jockeys rely on them to make sure their day runs smoothly between races.

Nuggy has tended to many of the greats of Irish and international racing, from Lester Piggott to Willie Shoemaker to Mick Kinane to the aforementioned Walsh and Smullen, and even looked after Aidan O’Brien during the Ballydoyle maestro’s days riding in point-to-points.

Now 66, he brings the curtain down on a wonderful period of service and it is fitting that he says goodbye in the plush new Curragh weigh room.

Happy retirement Nuggy, and don’t be a stranger.


Murphy’s Law

Joe Murphy is a trainer you always take seriously. He has sold some good horses to keep the business on a sound footing but has illustrated time and again his ability to have his troops ready, whether that is to impress potential future owners, or win at a higher level.

Euphrasia, Only Mine, Swamp Fox, Ask Jack and Ardbrae Lady are just some of those who have benefited from the Fethard conditioner’s tutelage and swooped off with the spoils on a big day.

Murphy’s string has begun firing of late, with Insignia Of Rank victorious in a premier handicap at the Curragh and Fit For Function claiming the spoils at Gowran Park recently.

Insignia Of Rank returns to HQ this evening, stepping up in class to take in the Listed TRI Equestrian Silver Stakes (7.45). On ratings, the four-year-old has a bit to find to get in the frame but having won over course and distance a fortnight ago and with Murphy not one to waste darts at stakes contests, he cannot be ruled out.

Murphy has two runners at Navan tomorrow. Ballylinch Stud-bred and –owned Kodiqueen is aimed at the Arkle Bar Handicap (3.25). The three-year-old filly has the right blood, by Kodiac out of Dubawi mare Majestic Dubawi, and though failing to land a blow in three maidens, having not run as a juvenile, is interesting now on handicap debut.

Istoria looks a potentially talented individual with a very strong chance in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Fillies’ Maiden (4.35). Like Kodiqueen, Istoria is owned by her breeder (Paget Bloodstock), is regally-bred (by Camelot out of Storm Cat broodmare Brooklyn’s Storm) and was shown the necessary patience by her trainer.

Thus her first run came in a three-year-old maiden at Cork a month ago and she made a significant impression staying on to be third, having met a little trouble in running. Only two horses in behind have been to the track since and one of those was placed, but with Paddy Twomey and Jessica Harrington providing the first two, and Aidan O’Brien the fourth, it was likely to be a good maiden.

Runner-up Camphor reopposes but the Harrington charge was having her second run when one-and-a-half lengths ahead of Istoria, who will surely have a better idea about her job now. Dermot Weld’s Kiss For A Jewel is a major threat too in a 17-runner affair.

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