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Murtagh no certainty to retain the ride on Novellist

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Top English jockey Johnny Murtagh is no certainty to retain the prized ride on Novellist even though he steered the German trained colt to victory in the Group 1 £1m The King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes (1 mile 4 furlongs) at Ascot on the weekend.

Trainer Andreas Wohler will now set Novellist for the Group 1 €4m QATAR Prix De L’Arc De Triomphe (1 mile 4 furlongs) at Longchamp, France on October 6 for which he is one of the early favourites with Flintshire, Al Kazeem and Orfevre.

Murtagh was the third choice of rider for Novellist at Ascot after both Ryan Moore and William Buick had to knock back the ride because of other commitments and didn’t let Wohler down with a perfect ride to score a five lengths victory over Trading Leather and Moore’s mount Hillstar.

Wohler is considering starting Novellist at Baden-Baden in Germany as a final lead up to the Prix De L’Arc De Triomphe and that will definitely put Murtagh out the picture.

Because Murtagh holds a dual jockey – trainer’s licence in England, he won’t be allowed to ride in at Baden-Baden as the German rules prevent this from happening.

Wohler said that Novellist returned to his base in Germany a little bit tired and will monitor the Monsun four year old recovery following his Ascot win and will decide in the next fourteen days if he will send him to Baden-Baden.

“It just depends on how he gets on in the next 14 days. We will give him an easier time now and we will probably go for Baden-Baden instead of going to France for a prep race,” Wohler said.

“We haven’t discussed who will ride the horse next time. Because Johnny is a trainer as well as a jockey we wouldn’t be allowed to put him on the horse there. Those are the rules in Germany.

“We don’t want to mess around much. We will have to see. The owner went on holiday after Ascot and when he comes back we will discuss it.”

“It was an unbelievable performance. We always had confidence in him that he was a very good horse.”

Moore rode Novellist to victory in the Group 1 €400,000 Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud (2400m) at Saint-Cloud, France on June 23 while Buick has also be on the colt’s back when he ran fourth at Baden-Baden in September last year.

About The Author

Mark Mazzaglia

Mark is a passionate journalist with a life-time involvement in the racing industry. He spent many years as an analyst and form expert at the Courier Mail and also has hands-on experience working with some of Queensland’s top trainers.

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