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  Thursday, 21 June, 2001, 17:02 GMT 18:02 UK
Murtagh's magical treble
Sahara Slew edges ahead of Nafisah
Murtagh and Sahara Slew edges ahead of Nafisah
Irish jockey Johnny Murtagh landed a massive treble as his incident-packed Royal Ascot continued.

The three winners yielded a return of 2024-1 for a 1 stake.

Murtagh piloted the 14-1 shot Royal Rebel to victory in the Group One Gold Cup, and also triumphed on Sahara Slew in the Ribblesdale Stakes and Beekeeper in the King George V Stakes.

Elsewhere, Harmonic Way triumphed in the Cork and Orrery Stakes while in the Norfolk Stakes, Johannesburg, the shortest-priced favourite in the meeting, landed a huge gamble with a comprehensive victory.

Murtagh rode an excellent race, as the 14-1 shot Sahara Slew sped down the home straight to defeat Nafisah, who had led from the off, by a head in the day's opener.

Murtagh, whose suspension on the first day of the meeting rules him out of the Irish Derby, guided the filly home for the fourth Irish-trained winner at the festival.

And he picked up another suspension for overuse of the whip in the Ribblesdale - effectively extending his five-day ban to six days.

Gay Heroine, sent off at 5-1 favourite, disappointed and was never really in contention.

Winning trainer Johnny Oxx said: "We thought it was improving and she needed to improve. But she ran a great race and didn't disappoint."

He indicated that the horse might run in the Irish Oaks.

Murtagh added: "I was always confident that I was going to get him.She is a big backward filly, who is only coming on now and I think there's still improvement in her."

In the 1505 BST, Johannesburg, the hottest favourite of the week at 11-8, triumphed for Aidan O'Brien, with Waterside well adrift in second place.

Mick Kinane guided the colt home for the Ballydoyle trainer's fourth win of the meeting.
Steve Drowne guides Harmonic Way home
Steve Drowne guides Harmonic Way home

Harmonic Way's devastating late surge claimed victory in the Cork And Orrery Stakes, the six-furlong Group 2 race.

Steve Drowne guided the 10-1 shot down the rail and found the vital gaps in the closing stages to finish a length ahead of the 6-1 favourite Three Points with Freud in third.

Drowne, who secured his second winner at the meeting, said: "He's the best sprinter by far that I've ridden."

Murtagh's perfect day continued as Beekeeper defied top weight in the 1655 BST race. He steered the son of Rainbow Quest to victory by half a length.

It was not just Irish jockeys prospering, as Irish trainers are already enjoying their most successful Royal Ascot in nearly a quarter of a century.

Aidan O'Brien's quartet Black Minnaloushe, Landseer, Mozart and Johannesburg plus the John Oxx-trained Sahara Slew have combined to record five victories this week.

That total is the best at the meeting since Jaazeiro, Sutton Place, Relfo, Sweet Mint and Solinus all scored for Ireland in 1978.

Full result 1430 BST
1 Sahara Slew (J Murtagh) 14-1
2 Nafisah (R Hills) 9-1
3 Marani (R Hughes) 9-1
14 ran
Also: 9-2 Fav Gay Heroine, 14-1 Snowflake 4th

Full result 1505 BST
1 Johannesburg (M J Kinane) 11-8 Fav
2 Waterside (M Hills) 25-1
3 Lord Merlin (F Norton) 25-1
10 ran
Also: 3-1 Kulachi 4th

Full result 1620 BST
1 Harmonic Way (S Drowne) 10-1
2 Three Points (L Dettori) 6-1 Fav
3 Freud (J P Spencer) 25-1
21 ran
Also: 10-1 Tillerman 4th

Full result 1655 BST
1 Beekeeper (J Murtagh) 14-1
2 Tomasino (K Darley) 12-1
3 Arabie (T Quinn) 6-1 Fav
4 Compton Commander (J Fortune) 9-1
20 ran

Johnny Murtagh after riding Sahara Slew
"I was always happy I was going to win"
Sahara Slew's trainer John Oxx
"She had to improve a lot to win today"
Royal Rebel's owner Peter Savill
"This is a very special race"
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12 Jun 01 | Royal Ascot
19 Jun 01 | Royal Ascot
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