Thursday 22 March 2018

Novellist lands King George spoils for Johnny Murtagh

Johnny Murtagh riding Novellist win The King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot
Johnny Murtagh riding Novellist win The King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot

Tom Peacock

Novellist gave Germany back-to-back victories in the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes with a brilliant victory in a record time at Ascot.

The four-year-old, trained by Andreas Wohler and ridden by Johnny Murtagh, spreadeagled the field in spectacular style to follow up Danedream's success 12 months ago.

Novellist (13-2) romped home by five lengths from Trading Leather (9-2), with another three-year-old colt, Hillstar, a further three-quarters of a length away in third.

Murtagh said: "He's a very high-class horse with a good engine.

"I loved the way when I asked him to stretch he wanted to get on with it.

"He stretched well - pulling him up was probably the hardest part.

"I can't thank the owner and trainer enough. He feels like a very good horse.

"He'd be up there with my other King George winners."

Wohler, securing his first Group One triumph in Britain, "We knew he'd improved since his last race but as much as that is unbelievable."

A furious early pace was set by Ektihaam and Universal, with Trading Leather running free close in third.

But Murtagh, who was winning the race for a fourth time, was always happy on Novellist and stormed into the lead in the straight.

The French-trained 6-4 favourtie Cirrus Des Aigles could not mount a challenge and it was left to the two representatives from the Classic generation, but they could not get near the impressive winner.

Wohler said: "We'd just won a Listed race and a bumper race over here before this.

"This race is so high-rated. I used to come here as a kid and watch it as a kid in the school holidays and now I am here as a trainer.

"To win it is unbelievable."

Trainer Corine Barande-Barbe said of the fourth-placed Cirrus Des Aigles: "Christophe (Soumillon) said that he still had a bit of condition and he asked to breathe three times.

"He needs competition as he had a very big stop earlier in the year.

"He will improve again and we will now go on to York (for the Juddmonte International)."

Trading Leather's trainer Jim Bolger said: "That was very satisfactory.

"He could have done with a bit more pace in the early part of the race.

"Everything went right until the last furlong.

"He'll go to York for the Juddmonte and then the Irish Champion Stakes."

Online Editors

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