Murtagh to decide if he rides or trains Royal Diamond for Melbourne Cup

Dual licence holder Johnny Murtagh will be forced to make a tough decision if his top stayer Royal Diamond heads to Australia for the Group 1 $6.2m Emirates Melbourne Cup(3200m) at Flemington on November 5.

bart cummings

Bart Cummings, above, trained Viewed to win the 2008 Melbourne Cup. Photo by Taron Clarke.

Murtagh currently holds a jockey’s licence and a trainer’s licence in Ireland but under the Australian racing rules he can only hold one ticket if he brings Royal Diamond to Melbourne.

“If Johnny Murtagh does bring Royal Diamond here for the Melbourne Cup, he will need to decide if he wants to be the horse’s jockey or trainer, he can’t do both,” Racing Victoria’s international talent scout Leigh Jordon told The Daily Telegraph. 

“It would be very interesting if he could train the horse and then ride him in the Cup but the rules prevent that from happening in Victoria.”

Royal Diamond is racing in top form with two wins and two seconds from his last four starts and is on target to win back to back Group 1 €200,000 Gain Irish St Legers (1 mile, 6 furlongs) at the Curragh in Ireland on September 15.

Murtagh rode Royal Diamond when he led all the way to take out the Group 3 €60,000 Gain Irish St Leger Trial Stakes (1 mile, 6 furlongs) at the Curragh on Saturday and is keen to head to Melbourne for the Cup.

“The aim is to be back here in three weeks for the Irish Leger and this was the ideal prep,” Murtagh said.

“The Leger is his race and I will talk to Andrew after that about Melbourne. It is a long way to go but he has shown today that he is not tired. People might say he is now a seven-year-old and getting on but he feels young and does not have many miles on the clock.”

If Royal Diamond was able to win his second Irish St Leger, Murtagh would have little trouble convincing owner Andrew Tinkler a trip to Melbourne was warranted and give Murtagh the chance of a better result than his only other trip to Melbourne when he finished eighteenth behind the Bart Cummings trained Viewed on Septimus in the 2008 Cup.

The Dermot Weld trained Vintage Crop became the first European trained galloper to win Melbourne Cup in 1993 after winning the Irish St Leger and if Royal Diamond was to collect his second St Leger trophy in three weeks, no doubt his Melbourne Cup odds will shorten considerably from the $81 that is currently on offer.

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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