Murtagh confirmed for Novellist Arc ride

Murtagh prayer is answered

Murtagh prayer is answered

Last week Johnny Murtagh was ecstatic after he rode Novellist to victory in the King George at Ascot. That was followed by the disappointing news Murtagh to miss out on Novellist Arc prep that he would not be on board for the horse’s next race, which inevitably led to conjecture that he might not then be riding Novellist at Longchamp in October.

The ruling in Germany that prevents a jockey who also has a trainer’s licence from riding turned out to be a red herring in Murtagh’s case – it only applies to German riders – but that hasn’t reunited the pair immediately. Andreas Wohler, trainer of Novellist set out his riding plans yesterday, saying, “It has been agreed with owner Dr Cristoph Berglar that Eduardo Pedroza will be the rider in the Grosser Preis. For the Arc it is expected that Johnny Murtagh will again be in the saddle. I just wanted to put an end to all the speculation.”

That was good news for Murtagh as he sat down for breakfast yesterday morning. Hw sounded bullish about the chances of Novellist, a view shared by bookmakers, who have the horse as 5/1 joint favourite with Andre Fabre’s Flintshire. Murtagh said, “He has the profile for being an Arc horse, he’s got everything it takes. He improved from France (in June’s Grand Prix de St Cloud) to the King George. If he stays the same he’ll be there or thereabouts in the Arc.”

We’ll have to wait until the middle of next month to make a further judgement of the two horses. Whilst Novellist completes his preparation in Germany on 1 September, Flintshire will take the same route as Fabre’s three most recent winners of the Arc, Sagamix, Hurricane Run and Rail Link, by running in the Prix Niel on 15 September.

Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager for Flintshire’s owner Khalid Abdullah, told At The Races, "Flintshire came out of the Juddmonte Grand Prix de Paris in really good shape, everyone is very happy with him and he will go, all being well, to the Prix Niel, the trial in September, and then head for the Arc. He looks good, he's got this wonderfully good stride and he quickened off quite a slow pace at Longchamp so we have to be very positive about him."