Murtagh the favourite to ride Dubawi Gold at Ascot
Published 11/10/2011 | 15:59
JOHNNY Murtagh is favourite to ride Dubawi Gold in the Qipco-sponsored Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot on Saturday.
With Richard Hughes leaning towards partnering stablemate Dick Turpin, connections of the Richard Hannon-trained colt are on the look-out for a new rider.
Murtagh has, however, already ridden Dubawi Gold and has developed a fine association with his owner, Andrew Tinkler.
Tim Jones, racing manager for haulage magnate Tinkler, said: "At the moment, Richard is veering towards Dick Turpin, which is understandable on official ratings.
"But if Hughesie does ride Dick Turpin, there are naturally other top jockeys available.
"Johnny knows the horse well, though, and has a good relationship with Andrew.
"There's also Ryan Moore waiting in the wings so we're in a good position."
Runner-up in both the English and Irish 2000 Guineas, Dubawi Gold also collected the Celebration Mile at Goodwood in August.
He then finished three lengths adrift of QEII rival Excelebration in the Prix du Moulin at Longchamp last month.
But, like most of the field, Jones accepts the possibility of dethroning Frankel is almost a fanciful concept.
He said: "He has come out of the French race in good shape and we have been gradually building back up to Ascot.
"It would be very hard to find a more genuine, tougher and versatile horse running in Group Ones like he does.
"But, in reality, if the same Frankel turns up that has done in all of his races so far, we accept we will be playing second fiddle.
"But horses, like us, are only made of flesh and blood and racing can be a funny sport.
"In the unlikely event Frankel was below-par, we'd be kicking ourselves if we weren't there."
Cityscape, who competes under the same Khalid Abdullah ownership as Frankel, is far less likely to appear in the QEII.
Roger Charlton tweeted that the five-year-old entire will not line up unless Frankel is declared a non-runner.
Abdullah is still poised to be represented by Bullet Train, the likely pacemaker for Sir Henry Cecil's unbeaten colt.