Trainer Andreas Wohler has earmarked the Longines Grosser Preis von Baden as the start of September as the Arc prep race for Novellist. Last year Danedream won that race on the way to Arc success, with Wohler’s charge finishing fourth. A quirk of the rules of racing in Germany prevents trainers from riding, which means that Murtagh won’t be able to ride Novellist in that race. A strong performance then will give Wohler the sort of headache trainers don’t mind.
Murtagh knew the issue could arise. He said, “I was supposed to ride in Germany earlier in the season, so I was aware of it. It’s a bit of a bummer, but we don’t know for certain yet Novellist will go for before the Arc.” Clearly he wants to ride Novellist again, but Wohler was making no promises.
The trainer made it clear that he would show no sentiment in his jockey choice; what mattered was who he thought would do the best job. There was no urgency to settle that matter. Wohler said, “It just depends on how he gets on in the next 14 days. We will give him an easier time now and we will probably go for Baden-Baden instead of going to France for a prep race. We haven't discussed who will ride the horse next time. Because Johnny is a trainer as well as a jockey we wouldn't be allowed to put him on the horse there. Those are the rules in Germany. We don't want to mess around much. We will have to see. The owner went on holiday after Ascot and when he comes back we will discuss it.”
Ryan Moore and William Buick have both ridden Novellist before are likely to come into consideration. Buick, who rode him in the race in Germany last season, was quick to make his case. He said, “He’s a very good horse. The day I rode him he’d had a busy time (well, he’d finished runner up in the German Derby two months earlier) but that’s all history now. It would be very nice to ride him again, but that’s obviously up to the trainer and owner.”