As top Irish trainer- jockey Johnny Murtagh contemplates a Melbourne Cup start for Royal Diamond, he is also mapping out a plan for German trained stayer Novellist in the Group 1 €4m QATAR Prix De L’Arc De Triomphe (2400m) at Longchamp, France on the weekend.
Murtagh, who holds a dual trainer/jockey licence in Ireland is keen to make a final decision if Royal Diamond, out of his Irish stable, will make the trip to Australia for the Group 1 $6.2m Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington on November 5.
“We have to make a decision before Tuesday,” Murtagh told At The Races in the UK on the weekend.
“We gave him a nice easy bit (of work) on Saturday morning and we’re happy with him, but we want to see if he’s really bouncing over the next couple of days,”
“I would have loved if he’d run a bit better in the Irish St Leger.”
Royal Diamond disappointed Murtagh with his fifth to Voleuse De Coeurs in the Group 1 €200,000 Gain Irish St Leger (1 mile, 6 furlongs) at the Curragh, Ireland, on September 15 and is waiting to see how the run has affected the seven year old.
“For some reason he ran a bit flat and I would have loved to see him running a little bit better and really putting himself in line for Melbourne. It’s a difficult decision,” Murtagh said.
“It’s a long way to go and costs a bit of money.”
Murtagh has a big opinion of Royal Diamond and knows on his day he would be hard to beat in the right race.
“I believe Royal Diamond, on his day, would have a chance of running a very good race in the Melbourne Cup, but we haven’t decided yet. I think there and back it costs £50,000 plus (to travel), but if you finish in the first 10 (in the Melbourne Cup) you’re going to pay for your expenses,” Murtagh said.
Royal Diamond is currently a $61 chance in the Melbourne Cup market order which sees the Darren Weir trained Puissance De Lune and Gai Waterhouse’s Fiorente fighting it out for favouritism at $7 and$7.50.
Meanwhile Murtagh is working out a plan how he get can the Andreas Wohler-trained Novellist to win the prestigous Prix De L’Arc De Triomphe on the weekend.
Murtagh was aboard Novellist two starts back when he took out the Group 1 £1m The King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes (1 mile 4 furlongs) at Ascot on July 27 and was very impressed with the performance.
“I am really looking forward to him. A lot of trials are gone and a lot of horses have come into it but the King George is what I keep remembering, the feel he gave me, the way he ran. If he can run like that, he’s the one they have to beat,” Murtagh told the Racing Post.
Novellist has since won the Group 1 €250,000 Longines – Grosser Preis Von Baden (2400m) at Baden-Baden in Germany when ridden by German rider Eddie Pedroza but Murtagh can’t wait to get back on top of the colt.
“I’ve not sat on Novellist since Ascot but I spoke to the trainer and he’s very happy with the horse. I love those good trainers when they say their preparation is going well,” Murtagh said.
“If the preparation is going well it means he is able to do what he wants with the horse, he’s able to put the work into the horse and he’s happy with the horse.”
Novellist is currently on the third line of betting for the Prix De L’Arc De Triomphe at $6.50 with Japanese galloper Orfevre heading the market order at $3.70 in front of the unbeaten French star Treve at $4.50.