Irish trainer and jockey Johnny Murtagh will decide within the next 48 hours whether Royal Diamond will defend his title in the Group 1 Irish St Leger (2800m) at Curragh on Saturday or come to Australia for the Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) on October 19.
Royal Diamond was set to contest the Irish St Leger before coming to Australia for a crack at the Melbourne Cup (3200m) but connections have changed their minds in the last week and the seven-year-old was included in the Caulfield Cup first acceptances that were released yesterday.
Because of Australian quarantine restrictions Royal Diamond is unable to contest both races and owner Andrew Tinkler said that he is still unsure what path the King’s Best gelding will take.
“No decision has been made yet, but we are thinking about it (running in the Caulfield Cup),” Tinkler told The Irish Times.
“We’re just weighing everything up at the moment and we’ll have to make a decision later in the week.”
Racing Victoria International Recruitment Officer Leigh Jordon said that he hoped Royal Diamond will enter quarantine in England on Thursday so that the Irish stayer can arrive in Melbourne on September 28 on the first plane filled with European-trained 2013 Spring Racing Carnival contenders, ahead of the Caulfield Cup three weekends later.
“Johnny Murtagh, the trainer and rider of Royal Diamond, has advised me that he is now considering a trip to Australia for the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups, rather than defending his Irish St Leger crown this weekend,” Jordon told Racing Victoria.
“The quarantine requirements mean he would be unable to do both so he will review the acceptances and advise me within the next 48 hours of his decision.
“Certainly it would be a coup for Caulfield if the Irish St Leger winner chose to compete in their race.”
Royal Diamond was one of seven European-based gallopers included in the 2013 Caulfield Cup first acceptances that were released yesterday, with Dandino, Red Cadeaux, Simenon, Forgotten Voice, Now We Can and Trevieres all a chance to contest the $2.5 million race.
Johnny Murtagh rode champion Irish stayer Septimus when he finished eighteenth behind Viewed in the 2008 edition of the Melbourne Cup but has never previously contested the Caulfield Cup as either a trainer or a jockey.
Murtagh holds a dual license in the United Kingdom and Ireland but will be forced to choose whether he is licensed as a jockey or a trainer when he comes to Australia later in the year.