Murtagh wins King George ride on Novellist
Johnny Murtagh has been confirmed as the rider of Novellist in Saturday’s King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot, but news of the booking was overshadowed after leading fancy St Nicholas Abbey sustained a career-ending injury.
In the absence of the six-times Group One winner, Novellist is now the 4-1 second favourite behind Cirrus Des Aigles and trainer Andreas Wohler has moved to snap up Murtagh who is riding at the top of his game.
Ryan Moore partnered the four-year-old to win the Grand Prix de Saint Cloud last time out, when Cirrus Des Aigles could finish only fifth on his first run of the year.
However, Moore will be required to ride Sir Michael Stoute’s Hillstar, who was supplemented on Monday.
William Buick is another who has ridden Novellist before, but his boss John Gosden is likely to have runners at York on the same afternoon.
That meant Wohler turned his attentions to Murtagh who, despite starting a training career this summer, remains at the peak of his powers in the saddle, as he showed when winning the Irish Oaks aboard the wayward Chiquita last weekend.
“We’ve booked Johnny Murtagh as there were question marks over the other jockeys we’ve used before,” said Wohler.
“The owner (Dr Christophe Berglar) didn’t want to be hanging around until the last minute, which is understandable, so we’ve booked Johnny.
“Now we have certainty and Johnny is obviously in really good form.”